What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Colitis will vary in severity and regularity from case to case. The main symptoms include:
- Recurring diarrhoea, which may contain blood, mucus, or pus
- Tummy pain
- The need to empty your bowels frequently
- Loss of weight and appetite
Periods of remission, where symptoms may be very mild or non-existent, may occur for periods of weeks or even months. They are often followed by flare-ups or periods where the symptoms are particularly severe.Flare-ups can involve:
- Mouth ulcers
- Areas of painful, red and swollen skin
- Irritated and red eyes
Cause and treatment
Colitis is believed to be an autoimmune condition, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. The most common theory behind the condition is that the immune system mistakes bacteria inside the colon as at heart and attacks the tissues of the colon, causing it to become inflamed.
Most experts believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause the immune system to behave in this way.
Most treatments for colitis are focused on symptom management, to relieve symptoms during a flare-up or to prevent them from returning. In most people, this is achieved with a combination of medicines:
- Aminosalicylates, or medicines that help to reduce inflammation
- Corticosteroids, a more powerful type of medicine used to reduce inflammation
In severe cases, where medications fail to control symptoms, surgery to remove the colon may be considered.