ZocdocAnswersWhat is colitis?

Question

What is colitis?

I've been previously diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. That was some years ago, and my doctor now (a different one) says that I have colitis. Is this the same as IBS, or do I have both diseases at once? What do I have to do to treat them both? Can colitis be cured?

Answer

I will give you an overview of colitis vs IBS. Colitis is a very general term (not specific disease) and therefore I will give you broad information about it. This is an issue that you can first bring up with your primary care physician who can refer you to a gastroenterologist if you need further evaluation. Colitis is a general term that means colon inflammation. An acute colitis is usually caused by a colon infection by a bacteria. The symptoms are usually fever, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), and abdominal pain. With the right antibiotics, this type of colitis is curable and rarely results in long term complications. A chronic colitis is often caused by an autoimmune disease. Collectively they are called Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). They are subdivided into Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis. They are chronic conditions that often cause chronic intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes anemia. Only Ulcerative colitis can be cured and only with removal of the effected area of the colon. Neither of these can be officially diagnosed without a colonoscopy. Irritable bowel syndrome on the other hand is a benign disease only diagnosed when other causes of abdominal issues have been excluded. The hallmark of the syndrome is belly discomfort and bloating that is relieved by defecation. Weight loss and malnutrition are not a part of the syndrome. I would go back to your doctor (or a different one) so that you can get an official diagnoses. Only then will you be able to pursue treatment. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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