Inflamed Colon


The colon, otherwise called the large intestine, is a part of the digestive tract. It does not digest or assimilate any major nutrients, but absorbs excess water in the digested food and forms stool to be passed into the rectum. In medical terminology, the condition of an inflamed colon is known as colitis. You might be wondering what causes this condition and how it can be restored to normal. Well, this article has the answer to both questions.
» Out of a number of causes of inflamed colon, bacterial infection is the most common. It may occur when your colon is exposed to a type of bacteria that triggers an immune reaction. Such bacteria are known as pathogens. The food you eat may be contaminated with harmful bacteria like SalmonellaCampylobacterShigella and E. coli. These are most likely to cause colitis. Clostridium bacteria can cause infectious colitis in people who are on a heavy and prolonged antibiotic medication. This type of colitis is generally characterized by dehydration, fever, and diarrhea (possibly bloody).
» Another common type of colitis is ischemic colitis. Due to hardening or narrowing of the blood vessels of the colon, blood supply to the region is reduced, which leads to inflammation. Since this vascular condition worsens with age, the chances of acquiring ischemic colitis increase with age. Hypovolemic conditions, such as shock or rapid dehydration, can cause ischemic colitis in people with abnormal blood pressure levels. Prolonged obstruction in the path of blood flow to the colon, which can happen due to a hernia or abdominal cramps, also leads to ischemic colitis. Along with diarrhea and fever, the individual may experience abdominal pain due to lack of blood supply.
» Ulcerative colitis is a much more serious type of colitis. Its exact causes are not determined and it is not directly linked with external stimuli. An individual with a considerable amount of genetic history of ulcerative colitis is more at risk for the same. Stressed individuals are also at risk. Lack of breastfeeding is also said to be a factor in acquiring ulcerative colitis. It is sometimes considered as an autoimmune disease (the immune system itself attacks the colon, mistaking it for an intruder- due to chemical / genetic malfunction). It may be manifested through inflammation of the lower spine (sacroiliitis), mouth ulcers, irritation of eyes, bloody diarrhea, consistent feeling of incomplete excretion etc. The weight of the individual is generally not affected.
Symptoms of different types of colitis may vary, but the commonly identifiable ones are:

  • Anemia
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloody stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

According to general observation, the symptoms are not persistent and fluctuate in occurrence as well as intensity.

The treatment may vary according to the cause and severity of the condition. It involves drug therapy, opiates and surgery. In drug therapy, antibiotics are given to the patient to treat the bacterial / viral infection. The symptoms usually subside with antibiotics treatment. Thus, normal healthy state of the digestive and excretory system can be restored. However, if the patient is suffering from serious complications such as severe diarrhea and bleeding, hospitalization may be required. The patient is given medication and made to follow a diet designed to maintain water-salt balance and boost his immune system. If the condition persists, surgical removal of the colon remains an option. In the case of an autoimmune colitis, immunosuppressants, which, by definition, ‘suppress’ the action of the ‘immune’ system, are given to the patient. Opiates can relieve the symptoms of colitis. However, an opiate dose should always be taken on prescription by a physician and not as a home remedy, since too much of opiates can be fatal.
But while you are on any kind of medication, you need to back it up with the right diet. In the case of an inflamed colon, keep the following points in mind.

  • Avoid taking beverages that aggravate diarrhea. Some examples are alcohol, aerated drinks, etc.
  • Stay away from foods rich in fat and dairy products as they tend to increase the workload on the digestive system and make the condition worse.
  • Cut short on the intake of fiber. While a fiber-rich diet is considered healthy in normal conditions, it may aggravate the inflammation of the colon. Consume white bread and rice, tofu or cereals without any added high-fiber content.
  • Manage stress by following relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing, etc. This will assist your body in dealing with the colon problem, especially the ulcerative kind.
  • Take natural supplements of zinc, folic acid, vitamin B12 and glutamine. To know their adequate intake amounts, consult a doctor.

Prognosis of an inflamed colon is generally good. There are no long-lasting effects of colitis, except of the most severe kind. If you do encounter any of the aforementioned symptoms, do not panic, contact your physician.