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Colitis

Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine (colon).

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Ulcerative colitis
Large intestine
Large intestine (colon)
Crohn disease, X-ray

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

Most of the time, the cause of colitis is unknown.

Causes of colitis include:

Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. You will also be asked questions about your symptoms, such as:

The provider can diagnose colitis by inserting a flexible tube into the rectum (flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) and looking at certain areas of the colon. You may have biopsies taken during this exam. Biopsies may show changes related to inflammation. This can help determine the cause of colitis.

Other studies that can identify colitis include:

Treatment

Your treatment will depend on the cause of the disease.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook will vary, depending on the cause of the problem.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have symptoms such as:

Related Information

Pseudomembranous colitis
Crohn disease
Ulcerative colitis
Necrotizing enterocolitis
Cryptosporidium enteritis
Toxic megacolon

References

Osterman MT, Lichtenstein GR. Ulcerative colitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 116.

Wald A. Other diseases of the colon and rectum. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 128.

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Review Date: 7/11/2017  

Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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