In a medical context, the label colitis (without qualification) is used if:
|A micrograph demonstrating cryptitis, a microscopic correlate of colitis. H&E stain.|
Symptoms of colitis may include: mild to severe abdominal pain and tenderness (depending on the stage of the disease), recurring bloody diarrhea with/without pus in the stools, fecal incontinence, flatulence, fatigue, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
Symptoms suggestive of colitis are worked-up by obtaining the medical history, a physical examination and laboratory tests (CBC, electrolytes, stool culture and sensitivity, stool ova and parasites et cetera). Additional tests may include medical imaging (e.g. abdominal computed tomography, abdominal X-rays) and an examination with a camera inserted into the rectum (sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy).
An important investigation in the assessment of colitis is biopsy. A very small piece of tissue (usually about 2mm) is removed from the bowel mucosa during endoscopy and examined under the microscope by a histopathologist. It can provide important information regarding the cause of the disease and the extent of bowel damage.
There are many types of colitis. They are usually classified by the cause.
Types of colitis include:
A subtype of infectious colitis is Clostridium difficile colitis, which is informally abbreviated as "C-diff colitis". It classically forms pseudomembranes and is often referred to as pseudomembranous colitis, which is its (nonspecific) histomorphologic description.
Enterohemorrhagic colitis may be caused by Shiga toxin in Shigella dysenteriae or Shigatoxigenic group of Escherichia coli (STEC), which includes serotype O157:H7 and other enterohemorrhagic E. coli.
Indeterminate colitis is the classification for colitis that has features of both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Indeterminate colitis' behaviour is usually closer to ulcerative colitis than Crohn's disease.
Atypical colitis is a phrase that is occasionally used by physicians for a colitis that does not conform to criteria for accepted types of colitis. It is not an accepted diagnosis per se and, as such, a colitis that cannot be definitively classified.
Some people may be admitted into the hospital following the colonoscopy depending on results. It is sometimes necessary to get the patient started on a steroid to speed up the healing of the colon. It may also be necessary to get the patient hydrated from the fluid loss and iron replaced from the loss of blood. After a hospital stay, the patient may be put on a daily medication to manage their chronic colitis. The medication can be an anti-inflammatory or an immunosuppressant. There are many different types of medication used and the doctor will prescribe the one they see fit. If the patient doesn't respond, new medications will be tried until there is a good fit.
Moreover, several studies recently have found significant relationship between colitis and dairy allergy (including: cow milk, cow milk UHT and casein), suggesting some patients may benefit from an elimination diet.
Blood in stool looks different depending on how early it enters the digestive tract—and thus how much digestive action it has been exposed to—and how much there is. The term can refer either to melena, with a black appearance, typically originating from upper gastrointestinal bleeding; or to hematochezia, with a red color, typically originating from lower gastrointestinal bleeding. Evaluation of the blood found in stool depends on its characteristics, in terms of color, quantity and other features, which can point to its source, however, more serious conditions can present with a mixed picture, or with the form of bleeding that is found in another section of the tract. The term "blood in stool" is usually only used to describe visible blood, and not fecal occult blood, which is found only after physical examination and chemical laboratory testing.
In infants, the Apt test can be used to distinguish fetal hemoglobin from maternal blood based on the differences in composition of fetal hemoglobin as compared to the hemoglobin found in adults.Clostridioides difficile infection
Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI or C-diff), also known as Clostridium difficile infection, is a symptomatic infection due to the spore-forming bacterium, Clostridioides difficile. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, nausea, and abdominal pain. It makes up about 20% of cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Complications may include pseudomembranous colitis, toxic megacolon, perforation of the colon, and sepsis.Clostridioides difficile infection is spread by bacterial spores found within feces. Surfaces may become contaminated with the spores with further spread occurring via the hands of healthcare workers. Risk factors for infection include antibiotic or proton pump inhibitor use, hospitalization, other health problems, and older age. Diagnosis is by stool culture or testing for the bacteria's DNA or toxins. If a person tests positive but has no symptoms, the condition is known as C. difficile colonization rather than an infection.Prevention is by hand washing, terminal room cleaning in hospital, and limiting antibiotic use. Discontinuation of antibiotics may result in resolution of symptoms within three days in about 20% of those infected. Often the antibiotics metronidazole, vancomycin or fidaxomicin will cure the infection. Retesting after treatment, as long as the symptoms have resolved, is not recommended, as the person may remain colonized. Recurrences have been reported in up to 25% of people. Some tentative evidence indicates fecal microbiota transplantation and probiotics may decrease the risk of recurrence.C. difficile infections occur in all areas of the world. About 453,000 cases occurred in the United States in 2011, resulting in 29,000 deaths. Rates of disease globally have increased between 2001 and 2016. Women are more often affected than men. The bacterium was discovered in 1935 and found to be disease-causing in 1978. In the United States, healthcare-associated infections increase the cost of care by US$1.5 billion each year.Collagenous colitis
Collagenous colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease affecting the colon specifically with peak incidence in the 5th decade of life, affecting women more than men. Its clinical presentation involves watery diarrhea in the absence of rectal bleeding. It is often classified under the umbrella entity microscopic colitis, that it shares with a related condition, lymphocytic colitis.Crohn's disease
Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Signs and symptoms often include abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), fever, and weight loss. Other complications may occur outside the gastrointestinal tract and include anemia, skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, and tiredness. The skin rashes may be due to infections as well as pyoderma gangrenosum or erythema nodosum. Bowel obstruction may occur as a complication of chronic inflammation, and those with the disease are at greater risk of bowel cancer.While the cause of Crohn's disease is unknown, it is believed to be due to a combination of environmental, immune, and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals. It results in a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract, possibly targeting microbial antigens. While Crohn's is an immune-related disease, it does not appear to be an autoimmune disease (in that the immune system is not being triggered by the body itself). The exact underlying immune problem is not clear; however, it may be an immunodeficiency state. About half of the overall risk is related to genetics with more than 70 genes having been found to be involved. Tobacco smokers are twice as likely to develop Crohn's disease as nonsmokers. It also often begins after gastroenteritis. Diagnosis is based on a number of findings including biopsy and appearance of the bowel wall, medical imaging and description of the disease. Other conditions that can present similarly include irritable bowel syndrome and Behçet's disease.There are no medications or surgical procedures that can cure Crohn's disease. Treatment options are intended to help with symptoms, maintain remission, and prevent relapse. In those newly diagnosed, a corticosteroid may be used for a brief period of time to rapidly improve symptoms alongside another medication such as either methotrexate or a thiopurine used to prevent recurrence. Stopping smoking is recommended in people with Crohn's disease. One in five people with the disease is admitted to hospital each year, and half of those with the disease will require surgery for the disease at some point over a ten-year period. While surgery should be used as little as possible, it is necessary to address some abscesses, certain bowel obstructions, and cancers. Checking for bowel cancer via colonoscopy is recommended every few years, starting eight years after the disease has begun.Crohn's disease affects about 3.2 per 1,000 people in Europe and North America. It is less common in Asia and Africa. It has historically been more common in the developed world. Rates have, however, been increasing, particularly in the developing world, since the 1970s. Inflammatory bowel disease resulted in 47,400 deaths in 2015 and those with Crohn's disease have a slightly reduced life expectancy. It tends to start in the teens and twenties, although it can occur at any age. Males and females are equally affected. The disease was named after gastroenterologist Burrill Bernard Crohn, who, in 1932, together with two other colleagues at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, described a series of patients with inflammation of the terminal ileum of the small intestine, the area most commonly affected by the illness.Ileitis
Ileitis is an inflammation of the ileum, a portion of the small intestine. Crohn's ileitis is a type of Crohn's disease affecting the ileum. Ileitis is caused by the bacterium Lawsonia intracellularis.
Inflammatory bowel disease does not associate with Lawsonia intracellularis infection.Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are the principal types of inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn's disease affects the small intestine and large intestine, as well as the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the anus, whereas ulcerative colitis primarily affects the colon and the rectum.Ischemic colitis
Ischemic colitis (also spelled ischaemic colitis) is a medical condition in which inflammation and injury of the large intestine result from inadequate blood supply. Although uncommon in the general population, ischemic colitis occurs with greater frequency in the elderly, and is the most common form of bowel ischemia. Causes of the reduced blood flow can include changes in the systemic circulation (e.g. low blood pressure) or local factors such as constriction of blood vessels or a blood clot. In most cases, no specific cause can be identified.Ischemic colitis is usually suspected on the basis of the clinical setting, physical examination, and laboratory test results; the diagnosis can be confirmed by endoscopy or by using sigmoid or endoscopic placement of a visible light spectroscopic catheter (see Diagnosis). Ischemic colitis can span a wide spectrum of severity; most patients are treated supportively and recover fully, while a minority with very severe ischemia may develop sepsis and become critically, sometimes fatally, ill.Patients with mild to moderate ischemic colitis are usually treated with IV fluids, analgesia, and bowel rest (that is, no food or water by mouth) until the symptoms resolve. Those with severe ischemia who develop complications such as sepsis, intestinal gangrene, or bowel perforation may require more aggressive interventions such as surgery and intensive care. Most patients make a full recovery; occasionally, after severe ischemia, patients may develop long-term complications such as a stricture or chronic colitis.Lymphocytic colitis
Lymphocytic colitis is a subtype of microscopic colitis, a condition characterized by chronic non-bloody watery diarrhea. The colonoscopy is normal but histology of the mucosal biopsy reveals an accumulation of lymphocytes in the colonic epithelium and connective tissue (lamina propria). Collagenous colitis shares this feature but additionally shows a distinctive thickening of the subepithelial collagen table. The peak incidence of lymphocytic colitis is in persons over age 50; the disease affects women and men equally. Lymphocytic colitis was first described in 1989.Microscopic colitis
Microscopic colitis refers to two related medical conditions which cause diarrhea: collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis. Both conditions are characterized by the presence of chronic non-bloody watery diarrhea, normal appearances on colonoscopy and characteristic histopathology findings of inflammatory cells.Toxic megacolon
Toxic megacolon is an acute form of colonic distension. It is characterized by a very dilated colon (megacolon), accompanied by abdominal distension (bloating), and sometimes fever, abdominal pain, or shock.
Toxic megacolon is usually a complication of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and, more rarely, Crohn's disease, and of some infections of the colon, including Clostridium difficile infections, which have led to pseudomembranous colitis. Other forms of megacolon exist and can be congenital (present since birth, such as Hirschsprung's disease). It can also be caused by Entamoeba histolytica and Shigella. It may also be caused by the use of loperamide.Ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a long-term condition that results in inflammation and ulcers of the colon and rectum. The primary symptoms of active disease are abdominal pain and diarrhea mixed with blood. Weight loss, fever, and anemia may also occur. Often, symptoms come on slowly and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms typically occur intermittently with periods of no symptoms between flares. Complications may include megacolon, inflammation of the eye, joints, or liver, and colon cancer.The cause of UC is unknown. Theories involve immune system dysfunction, genetics, changes in the normal gut bacteria, and environmental factors. Rates tend to be higher in the developed world with some proposing this to be the result of less exposure to intestinal infections, or to a Western diet and lifestyle. The removal of the appendix at an early age may be protective. Diagnosis is typically by colonoscopy with tissue biopsies. It is a kind of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) along with Crohn's disease and microscopic colitis.Dietary changes, such as maintaining a high-calorie diet or lactose-free diet, may improve symptoms. Several medications are used to treat symptoms and bring about and maintain remission, including aminosalicylates such as mesalazine or sulfasalazine, steroids, immunosuppressants such as azathioprine, and biologic therapy. Removal of the colon by surgery may be necessary if the disease is severe, does not respond to treatment, or if complications such as colon cancer develop. Removal of the colon and rectum can cure the disease.Together with Crohn's disease, about 11.2 million people were affected as of 2015. Each year it newly occurs in 1 to 20 per 100,000 people, and 5 to 500 per 100,000 individuals are affected. The disease is more common in North America and Europe than other regions. Often it begins in people aged 15 to 30 years, or among those over 60. Males and females appear to be affected in equal proportions. It has also become more common since the 1950s. Together, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease affect about a million people in the United States. With appropriate treatment the risk of death appears the same as that of the general population. The first description of ulcerative colitis occurred around the 1850s.