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Definition Return to top
Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine (colon).
Causes Return to top
Colitis can have many different causes, including:
For more information about a specific type of colitis see:
Symptoms Return to top
Symptoms can include:
Exams and Tests Return to top
The health care provider can diagnose colitis by inserting a flexible tube into the rectum (flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) and evaluating specific areas of the colon. Biopsies taken during these tests may show changes related to inflammation.
Other studies that can identify colitis include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatment is directed at the cause of disease (infection, inflammation, lack of blood flow, or another cause).
See the conditions listed above for specific recommendations.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The prognosis varies with each disease. See particular conditions listed above.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms such as:
Prevention Return to top
Prevention depends upon the cause of colitis. See the specific condition.Update Date: 2/20/2008 Updated by: Christian Stone, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.