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A micrograph demonstrating cryptitis, a microscopic correlate of colitis. H&E stain.
Classification and external resources
Specialty Gastroenterology
ICD-10 K50 - K52
ICD-9-CM 556.9
OMIM 191390
DiseasesDB 31340
MedlinePlus 001125
eMedicine ped/435
MeSH C06.405.205.265

Colitis (pl. colitides) refers to an inflammation of the colon.

Colitis may be acute and self-limited or chronic, i.e. persistent, and broadly fits into the category of digestive diseases.

In a medical context, the label colitis (without qualification) is used if:

  • The cause of the inflammation in the colon is undetermined; for example, colitis may be applied to Crohn's disease at a time when the diagnosis is unknown, or
  • The context is clear; for example, an individual with ulcerative colitis is talking about their disease with a physician who knows the diagnosis.


  • Signs and symptoms 1
  • Diagnosis 2
  • Types 3
    • Autoimmune 3.1
    • Idiopathic 3.2
    • Iatrogenic 3.3
    • Vascular disease 3.4
    • Infectious 3.5
    • Unclassifiable colitides 3.6
  • Treatment 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of colitis are quite variable and dependent on the cause of the given colitis and factors that modify its course and severity.

Symptoms of colitis may include: abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, bloody diarrhea, mucus in the stool,[1] cramping, urgency and bloating.

Signs may include: abdominal tenderness, weight loss, changes in bowel habits (increased frequency), fever, bleeding (overt or occult)/bloody stools, diarrhea, and distension.

Signs seen on colonoscopy include: colonic mucosal erythema (redness of the inner surface of the colon), ulcers, bleeding.

Also, colitis may lead to intestinal infection, which in turn would lead to gangrenous tissue if not treated.


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).


There are many types of colitis. They are usually classified by the cause.

Types of colitis include:

Micrograph showing intestinal crypt branching, a histopathological finding of chronic colitis. H&E stain.
Micrograph of a colonic pseudomembrane, as may be seen in Clostridium difficile colitis, a type of infectious colitis.


  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) - a group of chronic colitides.
    • Ulcerative colitis - a chronic colitis that affects the large intestine.
    • Crohn's disease - a type of IBD that often leads to colitis.


  • Microscopic colitis - a colitis is diagnosed by microscopic examination of colonic tissue; macroscopically it is normal appearing.
    • Lymphocytic colitis
    • Collagenous colitis


  • Diversion colitis
  • Chemical colitis

Vascular disease

  • Ischemic colitis


  • Infectious colitis

A well-known subtype of infectious colitis is Clostridium difficile colitis,[2] which is informally abbreviated as "c diff colitis". It classically forms pseudomembranes and is often referred to as pseudomembranous colitis, which is its (non-specific) 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.[3]

Parasitic infections, like those caused by Entamoeba histolytica, can also cause colitis.

Unclassifiable colitides

Indeterminate colitis is the classification for colitis that has features of both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.[4] Indeterminate colitis' behaviour is usually closer to ulcerative colitis than Crohn's disease.[5]

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. Beyond a hospital stay, the patient will be put on a daily medication which they will continuously take since this is a chronic yet manageable condition. 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) [6] [7] [8] [9] suggesting some patients may benefit of an elimination diet.

See also


  1. ^ Tresca, Amber J. (March 4, 2014). "Inflammatory Bowel Disease - What Can Cause Mucus in the Stool?". Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  2. ^ "Clostridium Difficile Colitis - Overview". WebMD, LLC. Retrieved 2006-09-15. 
  3. ^ Beutin L (2006). "Emerging enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, causes and effects of the rise of a human pathogen". J Vet Med B Infect Dis Vet Public Health 53 (7): 299–305.  
  4. ^ Romano, C.; Famiani, A.; Gallizzi, R.; Comito, D.; Ferrau', V.; Rossi, P. (Dec 2008). "Indeterminate colitis: a distinctive clinical pattern of inflammatory bowel disease in children.". Pediatrics 122 (6): e1278–81.  
  5. ^ Melton, GB.; Kiran, RP.; Fazio, VW.; He, J.; Shen, B.; Goldblum, JR.; Achkar, JP.; Lavery, IC.; Remzi, FH. (Jul 2009). "Do preoperative factors predict subsequent diagnosis of Crohn's disease after ileal pouch-anal anastomosis for ulcerative or indeterminate colitis?". Colorectal Dis 12 (10): 1026–32.  
  6. ^ Yang M; et al. (2015). "Effectiveness of dietary allergen exclusion therapy on eosinophilic colitis in chinese infants and young children ≤ 3 years of age.". Nutrients 7 (3): 1817–1827.  
  7. ^ Lucendo A; et al. (2015). "Systematic Review: The Efficacy of Dietary Treatment for Inducing Disease Remission in Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis.". J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr.  
  8. ^ Judaki A; et al. (2014). "Evaluation of dairy allergy among ulcerative colitis patients.". Bioinformation.  
  9. ^ Sun J; et al. (2015). "Association of lymphocytic colitis and lactase deficiency in pediatric population.". Pathol Res Pract 211 (2): 138–144.  

External links

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