ZocdocAnswersWhat causes colitis?

Question

What causes colitis?

I'm a 28 year old woman who was recently diagnosed (after having a biopsy) with colitis, but it didn't sound like there was any cause of the disease. What should a person do to avoid or anticipate colitis? What brings on a severe attack?

Answer

Colitis is a term we use to describe inflammation of the colon. The treatment, prognosis, and course of the disease depend entirely on the cause. In other words, colitis is just a generic term and you will need to ask the doctor who gave you the diagnosis what type you have. Colitis can have many causes but the top two are infectious and auto-immune. Infectious causes of colitis are bacterial infections and viral infections. They cause abdominal pain, diarrhea that can be bloody, and sometimes fever and chills. This type goes away when you body clears the infection. The two types of auto-immune colitis are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These are chronic conditions that are much tougher to treat and cure. If you have ulcerative colitis, then you will likely need to have your colon removed sometime in the future. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with the physician that gave you the colitis diagnosis. He or she can explain the different possible causes in your particular situation. It is possible that your doctor already knows the type, or is waiting for final results so that he or she can report that information back to you. From there, you will be able to discuss prognosis and treatment in your future. Good luck.

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