Colitis literally means inflammation of the colon, and it happens when the lining of your digestive tract has become damaged, causing it to become inflamed and sore. There are a few reasons this damage might occur, including infection, food poisoning, restricted blood flow to the colon, and as a side-effect of cancer treatment.
Colitis can also be because of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease or the most common form, ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel disease affects over 1.6 million Americans, but you might not know you have anything more than the occasional stomach ache or digestive issue.
There are four particular symptoms that indicate you may suffer from colitis. If you recognize any of these signs, book a consultation to come and see the Hawaii Gastroenterology Specialists.
1. Abdominal pain and bloating can be more than just a stomach ache
It’s not unusual to experience the occasional stomach ache when food disagrees with you, or stress might trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It’s when you appear bloated more often than not, and are experiencing persistent abdominal pain and cramps, you need to consider colitis.
This is particularly the case when your pain and bloating coincides with significant weight loss, vomiting, and even painful joints.
2. Changes to your bowel movements are a potential sign of colitis
Changes to your bowel movements that last for over two weeks should always be checked out, as they’re a clear sign that something isn’t right with your digestive system. For colitis, the most common change is diarrhea, which might contain blood at times.
Not being able to pass a movement, or wind, is a symptom of ulcerative colitis, too. If you’re not sure, keep a diary for two weeks and see if you can spot any patterns, like symptoms after certain food.
If you’re not sure of the cause, and any changes to your bowel movements are persistent, make sure you come and see us to get checked out.
3. Needing to stay close to a bathroom
Loose and urgent motions are a common symptom of colitis. If you need to spend most of your day close to the bathroom, or are always on the lookout for one when out of your home, come and visit us for a check up.
The inflammation causes this urgency to your colon, making it contract and need to empty more frequently. Your motions are pushed through at a faster rate, which is why they’re looser and much more regular than normal. It’s not unusual to need to visit the bathroom for a motion several times over just a few hours.
4. Fever is a common symptom of inflammation
When inflammation occurs in your colon, it triggers your body’s immune response by raising the temperature. This temperature change can lead to fever and night sweats, which may need additional treatment or even a hospital stay to bring back under control.
The good news is that colitis can be treated to reduce and remove symptoms. While there is no cure for ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, there are ways of managing the condition that can prevent these symptoms from becoming an issue for you.
When you visit us at Hawaii Gastroenterology Specialists, we’ll guide you through the various treatment options that are available, depending on which will suit your needs best. This may be medication, immune-suppressing drugs, and diet and lifestyle changes.
If you believe you may have colitis, come and see us, the Hawaii Gastroenterology Specialists, by booking your appointment online today.