Colitis is a problem that affects many people. But not everyone knows exactly what it is, what is unleashed and what are the best remedies to apply. Here is all the important information on colitis , to better manage this problem.
Colitis, what exactly is it?
The colitis is a ‘ inflammation that affects the colon , which is the second part of the intestine large intestine . It is accompanied by abdominal pain associated with cramps, bloating, constipation and / or diarrhea.
The term should be limited to specific problems of the colon, but, in the past, the term spastic colitis was used to indicate a wider range of disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease .
In order to talk about colitis there must therefore be an inflammation of the colonic mucosa , something that for example we do not find in the irritable bowel syndrome , in spastic colitis, in which the symptoms are caused by problems with the motility of the colon.
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Types of colitis and causes
The different colitis are classified according to the cause of the disease and the duration . They can be divided into:
primary (or primitive), if originating from the colon itself;
secondary, if they are caused by diseases that affect other organs;
acute , that is, colitis that suddenly appears with abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea;
chronic , which are often a consequence of acute forms;
infectious , that is those that derive from infections and bacteria ;
ischemic , which develop when blood flow to a part of the large intestine (the colon) is reduced;
pseudomembranous , which result from the abuse of antibiotics;
ulcerative , in which the inner wall of the rectum and colon, the “mucosa”, may appear red, bleeding and present widespread ulcers.
The acute inflammations are very frequent and are mainly due to infections , but when the diarrhea lasts for more than 4 weeks we speak then of chronic inflammation.
In addition there are particular entities called IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease), where phases of acute inflammation alternate with phases of remission of the disease. In this case the inflammation does not always concern the colon, as in the case of Crohn’s disease , where the most affected digestive tract is the small intestine. Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, always affects the colon and the rectum.
The most common causes of colitis are:
infections from bacteria / viruses / parasites (the classic viral “intestinal influences”, the famous pseudomembranous colitis from Clostridium Difficile etc.);
autoimmune and accumulation diseases;
in the case of ischemic colitis, vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes can contribute to creating problems in the intestinal circulation, which means that no more blood arrives and the mucosa goes into necrosis;
complications of chemotherapy / radiation treatment ;
drugs (eg NSAID or PPI microscopic colitis) and food allergies ;
stress and bad eating habits.
The symptoms of colitis and their severity strongly depend on the genesis of colitis. The main symptom is stool irregularities such as diarrhea , which can be accompanied by blood and pus. Other common symptoms are abdominal pain, fatigue, flatulence, loss of appetite and weight. Colitis can also be accompanied by fever, shortness of breath and tachycardia.
Among the associated intestinal symptoms there is also halitosis , the sensation of burning in the mouth or throat , the unpleasant taste of bitter and the difficulty in swallowing . But those who suffer from colitis can also experience nausea, vomiting, a sense of early satiety, stomach pain, intestinal borborigm and pain in the anus and perineum.
accompanying symptoms such as mouth ulcers, joint disorders and painful skin changes are rarer – but even more serious – .
Ulcerative rectocolitis can increase the risk of colon cancer due to chronic intestinal inflammation, toxic megacolon (abnormal dilation of the colon, often surgical emergency) and bleeding. In general, all colitis which does not limit itself may have fistulae, perforations, strictures, abscesses, tumors, bleeding as complications.
The exams to do
In the presence of symptoms that suggest colitis, it is advisable to consult a specialist doctor. The gastroenterologist will first of all conduct an interview with the patient about the symptoms and will also inquire about the subject’s lifestyle and eating habits. Then you can prescribe some tests like:
blood tests to rule out possible AGA antibodies, which are indicative of a gluten intolerance (a disease that can give similar symptoms).
Test of breath or breath test to determine gastric infection or an intolerance to lactose.
CDSA , an examination of intestinal function that also searches for the possible presence of parasites.
Stool examination , which allows for the discovery of possible colonization by fungi such as Candida Albicans, parasites or occult blood.
Abdominal ultrasound .
The most are self-limiting colitis (disease with a mild course that tends to resolve spontaneously) and do not require specific therapy . In principle, it may be necessary to compensate for the potentially dangerous loss of fluid and electrolytes in severe cases. Furthermore:
in case of high blood loss , iron should also be supplemented to prevent anemia .
If colitis is caused by an infection that is not viral , antimicrobial therapy is required to eliminate the pathogen . The exact active ingredient depends on the pathogen.
The autoimmune colitis, such as ulcerative colitis, requires an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive therapy . Treatment usually begins with the administration of cortisone . If you cannot control symptoms with cortisone, you can try other immunomodulatory drugs.
As for natural remedies, there are no great solutions that have proven to be effective: it is always good to take probiotics , which regulate intestinal functions, and prefer omega 3 fatty acids.
Colitis and nutrition: the foods to prefer and those to avoid
To tackle a problem like colitis, having a healthy lifestyle is essential, starting with food and stress management . In the most common forms of the disease, due to diet, it is good to remember that sugar, foods that are too fat and refined carbohydrates are “enemies” of the intestine, because they increase intestinal inflammation. Even fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, eel, crustaceans and molluscs, and fruits and vegetables that tend to ferment (grapes, cabbage, broccoli, dried fruit) can cause problems. If you suffer from colitis, here are the foods you can’t eat:
FOODS TO AVOID IF YOU SUFFER FROM COLITIS
BAGS AND CURED MEATS, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE SMALLER
FOOD IN BOX
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES THAT TEND TO FERMENT
COFFEE AND IRRITANT DRINKS!
Instead, there are other foods or dishes that can help soothe inflammation and restore balance in your intestines. Here are the preferred foods for colitis :
FOODS TO PREFER IF YOU SUFFER FROM COLITIS
WHITE MEAT COOKED WITH IRON OR STEAM
POTATOES AND LESSE CARROTS
FISH READY 0 TO STEAM
SOUPS OF OATS, BARLEY, RICE
In addition to paying attention to your diet, you can take other precautions that will allow you to get better. For example:
drink plenty of water during the day: at least 1 liter and a half, preferably 2;
Always eat fruit away from meals . In this way you will avoid fermentations in the stomach, reducing intestinal swelling;
chew slowly and never skip meals;
avoid foods and drinks that are too hot or too cold.
if you have episodes of diarrhea you can take lactic ferments .
A balanced diet , in addition to being an effective tool for treating and limiting the symptoms of colitis, also acts as a preventive agent, especially when compared to those diseases that can cause secondary colitis, such as diabetes and atherosclerosis . It is not possible to prevent autoimmune diseases.
In terms of complications, prevention passes mainly through vaccination : those suffering, in particular, from ulcerative rectocolitis are in fact more exposed to the risk of infectious complications (viral and bacterial) if they are treated with drugs that can compromise the immune response . For this reason, regardless of age, it is advisable to get vaccinated against seven different diseases : viral hepatitis (A and B), Herpes Zoster, pneumonia, flu, meningococcus and HPV. Vaccinations should be carried out immediately after diagnosis and, in any case, before starting therapy with cortisone, biological drugs or thiopurines.
Article written in collaboration with specialist medical personnel