Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
In this Article
- Colitis facts
- What is colitis?
- What are the causes (types) of colitis?
- Infectious colitis
- Ischemic colitis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Microscopic colitis
- Allergic colitis in infants
- What are the symptoms of colitis?
- When should I contact my doctor about colitis?
- How is colitis diagnosed?
- How is colitis treated?
- What is the prognosis for a patient with colitis?
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
The colon can be thought of as a hollow muscle. It requires a normal blood supply to deliver oxygen and nutrients for the muscle to function normally. When the colon loses its supply of blood and becomes ischemic (isch= restricted + emia=blood supply), it may become inflamed. Ischemia or lack of blood supply causes inflammation of the colon leading to pain, fever, and diarrhea (bowel movements may contain blood).
- As a person ages, the arteries that supply blood to the colon gradually narrow and can cause ischemic colitis. Risk factors for narrowed arteries are the same as atherosclerotic heart disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD), and include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
- Ischemia may be caused by low blood pressure or anemia (low red blood cell count), which can decrease oxygen delivery to the colon.
- The blood supply to the colon may be compromised when blood vessels are mechanically obstructed, for example by a twisting of the bowel (volvulus) or a herniation of the colon through openings in the abdomen wall (an incarcerated hernia).
Inflammatory bowel disease
Ulcerative colitis always begins in the rectum may spread to the rest of the rest of the colon, moving from the rectum to the sigmoid, descending, transverse, and finally ascending colon. It is consisdered an autoimmune disease and symptoms include abdominal pain, and bloody, diarrheal bowel movements.
Crohn's disease may occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract (GI), including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon. In Crohn's disease there may be "skip lesions," that is, abnormal segments of the GI tract interspersed with normal segments.
Next: Microscopic colitis
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