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Colitis is an inflammation of the colon. Colitis can have a large number of origins. We distinguish acute colitis from chronic colitis. The first usually occurs following an infection by a virus, bacterium or parasite, via drug intoxication (excessive use of laxatives or antibiotics) or after radiotherapy. They can also be secondary to circulatory disorders of the colon, called ischemic colic. The origins of the second type of colitis are unknown. Its occurrence is probably due to several factors - including genetics - and are known as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. This kind of chronic colitis may occasionally evolve into severe acute colitis.


The main symptoms of acute colitis are diarrhea and abdominal pain. In some cases, acute colitis can be severe: it is suspected in cases of bloody diarrhea containing mucus, fever, and a general altered state. Chronic colitis manifests itself through abdominal pain, diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding, fatigue and weight loss, but also symptoms that are specific to chronic inflammatory disease such as cracks and sores around the anus.


The diagnosis of colitis is based on the symptoms described by the patient and the results of medical examinations. The main test to diagnose colitis, a colonoscopy, is mainly practiced in the case of the chronicity of symptoms. During this exploration, it is common for a biopsy (i.e. a sample of the lining of the colon) to be taken, which will, after analysis, determine the cause of the inflammation. In cases of severe acute colitis, we can also determine whether it is of viral, bacterial or parasitic origin.


The treatment of acute colitis depends on its origin. In chronic colitis associated with Crohn's disease, a doctor will prescribe corticosteroids and drugs made from salicylate derivatives. Immunosuppressants can also be used to avoid the, however frequent, use of surgery. In case of ulcerative colitis with a few variations, the same treatments are used.


It is difficult to prevent colitis especially when you do not know its origin. In Crohn's disease, quitting smoking appears to be beneficial, as well as a fiber-free diet.

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