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What Is Colitis?

Learn about colitis from gastroenterologist Lisa Ganjhu, M.D. in this Howcast video about stomach problems and digestive disorders.


Colitis is basically inflammation of the colon, and that can be caused by a lot of different things because it's a general term. So anything that causes inflammation of the colon gives you colitis.

Now, you can have infectious colitis which can be from either clostridium difficile which you can get from antibiotics. You can get it from salmonella or E. coli or any of those food toxins that give you infectious colitis.

If you're an older person and you get something called ischemic colitis. And that's when a part of the colon doesn't get enough circulation or doesn't get enough blood, so basically suffocates. And then you can get some inflammation of a certain part of the colon.

Most common types of colitis is something that's called inflammatory bowel disease. And there's two different types of colitis with that. That could be either Crohn's colitis or ulcerative colitis. And those are inflammatory bowel diseases that patients can present with a lot of pain and bloody diarrhea.

So when someone says they have colitis, it's more of a basket description of inflammation of the colon. And then you have to kind of work your way to find out what type of colitis it actually is.

Yeah. There are worst colitises. Like the inflammatory bowel disease colitis is worse in a sense as it's a lifetime of this disease. So it's a lifetime of taking medications and managing the disease.

Ischemic colitis or infectious colitis, those ones are more short term and usually can go away within a couple weeks. Then there's lymphocytic colitis or collagenous colitis which causes just watery diarrhea, which is a little bit tricky to manage because there really isn't any good medications to help manage those types of colitis.

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