Colitis is a digestive disorder and can be chronic or severe. Colitis is the inflammation of the individual’s colon or large intestine due to improper blood circulation, poor immunity, or infection. Once digestion takes place and all the essential nutrients have been absorbed by the small intestine, undigested food passes into the colon in the large intestine, and is subsequently pushed out through the anus. If the mucus lining of the colon gets infected, it gives rise to colitis symptoms and treatment has to be planned accordingly. Other colitis symptoms and signs are insufficient blood supply leading to inflammation of the colon due to various disease and infections.
Colitis symptoms manifest as continuous abdominal pain or cramps accompanied by diarrhea, blood in the stools, frequent bowel movement, fatigue, loss of weight, and fever. Once you are aware of the colitis symptoms, treatment such as pain killers, intake of fluids to avoid dehydration, and a bland diet; in extreme cases, intravenous fluids, drugs to alleviate the inflammation, and immune system suppressors can be taken. Surgery is sometimes recommended in acute cases. Eating improperly cooked food under unhygienic conditions and drinking impure water causes colitis. Colitis symptoms in children are acute abdominal pain with distension and blood speckled stools. Colitis symptoms in men are liver and liver duct problems, frequent bowel movements or irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), and colon cancer or polyps.
There are different types of colitis, depending on the area or location and causes of inflammation. The different types of colitis include:
- Ulcerative colitis, caused by inflammation of the digestive system.
- Ischemic colitis is caused by insufficient blood supply to the large intestine, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
- Infectious colitis is caused by eating unhygienic food containing disease producing bacteria.
- Types of ulcerative colitis include irritable and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn’s disease. Severe abdominal pain or cramps and diarrhea are common symptoms of all types of ulcerative colitis. In very extreme cases, ulcerative colitis could be life threatening and require emergency medical attention.
- Rare types of colitis, seen in celiac disease are a genetic disorder of the immune system. It is caused by intolerance to gluten, a protein in wheat and certain cereals, leading to inflammation of the small intestine. People with type-1 diabetes, Down’s syndrome and William’s syndrome and women with Turner’s syndrome are also susceptible to celiac disease.
One has to be aware of the colitis causes and symptoms to be able to design a treatment plan. Food poisoning and bacterial or viral infections like salmonella and E. coli, manifested by diarrhea and bloody stools, are some colitis causes. Once diagnosis is done by the doctor, care should be taken to prevent dehydration. Food that is not hygienically prepared, stale food products and contaminated water are known to cause colitis. A common symptom of colitis in children and adults is acute and persistent pain in the abdomen along with diarrhea that lasts for a few hours. If diarrhea, accompanied by fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, blood in the stools and dehydration continues, medical intervention is required.
Ulcerative colitis causes are genetic. Symptoms include diarrhea and bleeding of the rectum, depending on the extent of infection or inflammation. Loss of appetite and weight, anemia, fatigue, joint aches, dry skin, dehydration, and slow growth (in children) are other symptoms. A feeling of needing to run to the bathroom frequently paired with pain in the rectum and forced bowel movement are noticed in dire cases.
Ischemic colitis causes are irregular blood flow to the colon (perhaps after a heart surgery), exposure to abdominal X-rays, blood clotting too soon, a medical history of strokes, sickle cell disease, and diabetes.
Pseudomembranous colitis causes include the presence of destructive bacteria like C. difficile, which is responsible for releasing strong toxins in the colon. This harms the mucus lining of the colon. The good bacteria in the digestive system are outnumbered by the harmful bacteria, further aggravated by strong antibiotics, drugs to fight cancer, and chemotherapy. Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, frequent constipation, and overuse of laxatives can also cause this disease.
Colitis treatment antibiotics are recommended. It is best that you contact your doctor and check with him as to which antibiotics are good for you. Intravenous or oral fluids are advised to counter dehydration. Colitis treatment medications include anti-inflammatory dosages and steroids to stem the inflammation, and then cure it so the colon starts functioning normally. The recouping process depends on the location and severity of inflammation. Aloe vera seems to alleviate intestinal inflammation and capsules containing aloe vera are prescribed to cure the disorder, repair cell damage, increase appetite and improve immune system.
Colitis treatment diet of diluted fruit juices of raw carrot, papaya and cabbage is recommended. A daily dose of warm enema will cleanse the bowels. Citrus fruits and juices should be avoided.
A colitis diet plan calls for fluids to avoid dehydration, minerals and multivitamins. Colitis diet foods should contain plenty of fiber, fish, eggs, and lean meat. The fiber should be reduced when the inflammation is acute. Colitis patients require frequent light meals. ‘Pre-digested’ high protein drinks not only replenish lost nutrients, but are also easy on the bowels.
Colitis foods to avoid are:
- Alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners and dairy products (if lactose intolerant)
- Lentils, cabbage, onions, chives, peppers
- Aerated drinks
- An ulcerative colitis diet comprises diluted fruit juices, steamed cooked vegetables, yoghurt, cottage cheese, ripened bananas and papaya, rice, sprouts and coarsely ground wheat. Cooked/steamed apples are also known to be beneficial for ulcers. Ulcerative colitis fruits like bananas, papayas and cooked apples (rich in phosphorus and iron) should be included in one’s diet. Vitamin B12 injections, flax seeds, and fish oil are recommended for those with IBD.
- A well-balanced and nutritious meal of the above items and fresh salads for three months should ease the colitis. Colitis diet recipes include various kinds of salads, pancakes and other nutritious foods. However, if colitis symptoms are acute, professional help must be sought immediately.