Table of Contents
- Colitis definition and facts
- What is colitis?
- Colitis and the anatomy of the colon
- What are the causes (types) of colitis?
- Infectious causes of colitis
- Ischemic causes of colitis
- Inflammatory bowel disease and colitis
- Microscopic colitis
- Allergic colitis in infants
- What are colitis symptoms and signs?
- When should someone contact a doctor about colitis?
- What kind of doctor treats colitis, and how is it diagnosed?
- How is colitis diagnosed (physical examination)?
- What blood tests and/or stool samples diagnose colitis?
- What imaging tests and procedures diagnose colitis?
- What is the treatment for colitis?
- What is the prognosis for a person with colitis?
Infectious causes of colitis
Many bacteria reside in the colon; they live in harmony with the body and cause no symptoms. However, some infections can result if a virus, bacteria, or parasite invade the small and/or large intestine.
Common bacteria that cause colitis include
These infections usually occur because the patient has eaten contaminated food. Symptoms can include diarrhea with or without blood, abdominal cramps, and dehydration from water loss because of numerous watery, bowel movements. Other organs can also be affected by the infection or the toxins that the bacteria can produce.
Clostridium difficile, commonly referred to as C. diff, is a bacterial cause of colitis that often occurs after a person has been prescribed an antibiotic or has been hospitalized. C. diff is found in the colon of healthy people and coexists with other "normal" bacteria. But when antibiotics are prescribed, susceptible bacteria in the colon can be destroyed, allowing the clostridia to grow unchecked, causing colitis. Patchy membranes form over the colon mucosa and some health-care professionals refer to C. diff colitis as pseudomembranous colitis. The bacteria also may be found on many surfaces in the hospital (for example, bedrails, toilets, and stethoscopes), and the infection may spread from person to person (it is highly contagious). Unfortunately, this infection is becoming more common outside the hospital environment, and people can develop community acquired C. diff colitis without exposure to antibiotics or a medical facility.
Worldwide, the most common parasite infection to cause colitis is Entamoeba histolytica. It is acquired by drinking infected water and can also be passed from person to person because of poor sanitation and hygiene.