Types of Colitis

There are several different types of colitis, each with slightly different causes and treatments. In general, colitis is the inflammation of the colon and is considered a chronic digestive disease. The symptoms of colitis are diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, swelling in the anus, blood and mucus in the stool and rectal bleeding. Colitis is caused by the body's immune system misfiring and attacking that sensitive area.

Ulcerative Colitis
This type of colitis is characterized by ulcers on the colon, and symptoms tend to flare up and die down, depending on triggers. Flare-ups have been tied to diet changes as well as illness. One significant symptom of ulcerative colitis is blood in the stool, whereas some other colitis conditions may just feature watery diarrhea. There seem to be genetic ties to ulcerative colitis, as children of those who have it are at greater risk to develop the condition. Besides taking medications for inflammation, severe cases of ulcerative colitis can be treated by surgically removing all or part of the colon.

Microscopic Colitis
Microscopic colitis is identified by a colonoscopy and occurs because of an increase in the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. These cells help defend the body against invaders, but somehow they receive mixed messages from the brain when it comes to recognizing the cells in the colon area. The condition can only be diagnosed by looking at tissue samples under a microscope. Treatment includes courses of anti-inflammatory colitis meds, as well as anti-diarrheals. There are several subcategories of microscopic colitis, including collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis.

Collagenous Colitis And Lymphocytic Colitis
Researchers are not clear whether the two identified conditions are different conditions or merely different stages of colitis. Collagenous colitis is characterized by the greater number of collagen proteins in the colon than normal. The wall of the colon is made of layers of collagen, and the colitis condition is aggravated when the collagen walls thicken. Lymphocytic colitis is characterized by a higher white blood cell count in the colo-rectal area. Intermittent, non-bloody diarrhea is the most common symptom, and treatment focuses on medications to relieve symptoms.

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