Inflammation of the colon or the large intestine is called colitis. Bacterial and viral infections and parasitic infestation of the colon are the common causes of colitis. This type of colitis, also known as infectious colitis, can be treated with medications that help to eliminate the harmful microbes or worms from the body.
Colitis is also associated with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Ischemic colitis is a less common form of colitis that occurs when blood supply to the colon falls owing to atherosclerosis of an artery supplying blood to the colon.
Exposure to toxic substances can induce colon inflammation, a condition known as chemical colitis. Lymphocystic colitis and collagenous colitis are two rare forms of colitis that occur when white blood cells called lymphocytes or collagen induce colon inflammation. The appropriate treatment for colitis depends on its underlying cause.
Different Ways of Treating Colitis
Nutritional therapy is a popular method of treating colitis naturally. As presence of certain proteins in the diet triggers inflammation of the colon, identifying the potential allergens and eliminating them from the diet can reduce abdominal pain and inflammation.
Milk proteins and gluten are common allergens associated with colitis. People with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis flare-ups can take probiotic supplements or fermented milk products.
The beneficial bacteria in probiotics help to restore the normal microbe flora in the colon, which can reduce the inflammatory activities in the colon. A high fiber diet should be avoided by people with active colitis.
Excess fiber in the diet may increase gas formation that aggravates abdominal pain and discomfort. A bland diet comprising of easily digestible well-cooked food is appropriate for people with colitis.
While infectious colitis caused by viruses require only symptomatic treatment such as increasing fluid intake and maintaining electrolyte balance, colitis caused by a bacterial infection need antimicrobial treatment.
Antibiotics commonly used for treating bacterial infections of the colon include ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, ceftriaxone, cefotaxime, flouroquinolones, chloramphenicol and gentamicin. Metronidazole is widely used for treating parasitic infestations that induce inflammation of the colon.
Different types of medications are used for treating inflammation of the colons. Mild to moderate abdominal pain may be reduced with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, the medication commonly used for alleviating colitis is an aspirin-like drug called 5-aminosalicylate.
Acute inflammation during colitis flare-ups can be treated with corticosteroids. Although steroids provide fast relief from colon inflammation, they can cause serious side effects when used for a long time. Corticosteroids are therefore taken only for a short time.
Moderate to severe colitis is treated with oral corticosteroid prednisone. Severe inflammation that does not respond to oral corticosteroids is treated with intravenous hydrocortisone.
Chronic colitis, a result of an underlying autoimmune disorder, can be kept under control with immunosuppressant medications that work by suppressing the activities of the inflammatory immune substances. Immunomodulators commonly prescribed by doctors for treating ulcerative colitis include 6-mercaptopurine and azathioprine.
Biologic drugs are latest options for treating colitis triggered by abnormal immune activities. These drugs work by inhibiting activities of the inflammatory immune cells called cytokines.
In case of ischemic colitis, the obstruction in the blood vessel supplying blood to the colon is removed with the help of surgical procedures. Surgical procedures involving removal of the entire colon or the damaged part can provide permanent relief from chronic colitis that cannot be cured with non-surgical procedures.
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