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What are the Causes of Colitis?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 16 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Colitis is a painful inflammatory bowel disease that can be precipitated by a number of factors. Food poisoning, antibiotic medication, and restricted blood flow to the colon or rectum are among the most frequent causes of colitis. While the condition is not necessarily considered a genetic illness, there is a higher risk of developing the disorder among people whose parents have a history of inflammatory bowel syndrome. Many times, however, colitis is diagnosed without any known cause. Generally, people with chronic disease can lessen the number of flare-ups by reducing stress and avoiding foods that cause, or exacerbate, symptoms.

Gastrointestinal infections are often suspected causes of colitis. This type of virus usually affects people following their consumption of improperly washed vegetables or undercooked meat. Those who become ill with this condition often experience extreme cases of painful diarrhea that usually contains traces of blood. This infectious colitis is generally diagnosed when certain bacteria are present, such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli) or Salmonella. Medications are often prescribed to kill the infection and ease symptoms during recovery.

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Certain antibiotics designed to fight other types of infections can actually be one of the causes of colitis. In situations such as this, the medication changes the colon’s natural bacteria called clostridium. When an overgrowth occurs as a result of the antibiotic, the bacteria emit a toxin, which can create symptoms, such as a fever and diarrhea. Drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated is very important when these symptoms are present.

Causes of colitis are sometimes attributed to a narrowing of the arteries in the colon. When this happens, limited blood supply to the area may cause the illness and result in painful inflammation, a high fever, and bloody stool. Certain risk factors, such as high cholesterol or smoking can increase a person’s chances of developing the disease. This condition, known as ischemic colitis, may also occur as a result of the colon becoming herniated, or getting stuck, in the abdominal wall. On rare occasions, the bowel becomes twisted, which restricts blood flow to the area.

Overall, depending on the causes of colitis in patients, pain and symptoms may wax and wane. Discomfort often worsens during periods of extreme stress. Painful flare-ups can also become more frequent after consuming certain foods that are difficult to digest, such as popcorn and other high-fiber, greasy foods, as well as spicy cuisine. An appropriate amount of rest and proper nutritional intake is often helpful in easing symptoms caused by colitis.

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