Colon inflammation is commonly referred to as colitis, which is a condition where the mucosa, the inner lining of the colon becomes inflamed. The colon is also known as the large intestine, and it helps eliminate waste material from the body. Different types of colon inflammation include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), microscopic colitis, ischemic colitis and infectious colitis. The inflammation might be the result of an autoimmune disorder, colon infection, a lack of blood supply or other unknown causes. Symptoms of an inflamed colon might include abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue.
A case of colon inflammation is often caused by an autoimmune disorder such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Crohn's disease can affect any part of the digestive tract, whereas ulcerative colitis affects the rectum and sigmoid colon. Infectious colitis might be caused by harmful bacteria in food or water. Parasites can also cause an infection that might contribute to an inflamed colon.
Ischemic colitis is more commonly seen among the elderly. It is a condition in which the blood supply to the mucosa is restricted because of low blood pressure or constricted blood vessels. In severe cases, it can lead to complications such as gastrointestinal perforation or sepsis, which can spread the inflammation throughout the body.
The underlying cause of colon inflammation is not known. There are theories, however, that suggest that it might be hereditary. It has also been linked to a poor diet that is low in fiber, a lack of fluids, parasites, tobacco use and other toxic substances, such as chemicals.
Common signs and symptoms of colon inflammation include abdominal pain accompanied by cramping, bloating, diarrhea and bloody stools. Loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and high fever are also commonly associated with an inflamed colon. It can be detected with a colonoscopy, a blood test or a stool sample. A patient history is also required in order to determine when the symptoms began and whether they are unremitting.
Treatment options for colon inflammation can vary from case to case, and the cause or type of inflammation usually dictates the type of treatment. In many cases, the patient is dehydrated, and thus the treatment is to rehydrate him or her either orally or intravenously. Antibiotics are commonly used in cases when the inflammation is the result of an infection, and autoimmune-related inflammation is treated with immune suppressants. Surgery might be necessary in severe cases.