The inflamed colon (colitis) is usually a common sign of certain conditions and diseases, but what are its most common symptoms and causes?
The intestines consist of the tubular visceral part of our digestive system, extending from the stomach to the anus, which are divided into the small intestine (which can reach 8 meters) and the large intestine (measures between 1 to 1, 5 meters long and 6.5 centimeters in diameter and is composed of the colon, the cecum and the rectum).
We must distinguish the colon, which is the part of the large intestine that is between the rectum and the ileum. It consists of four sections: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon.
Among the main functions of the colon, it is very important for the storage of different residues, the proper maintenance of the correct hydration balance, the extraction of water and for the absorption of certain vitamins, such as vitamin K.
However, like any organ in our body, the colon can become sick and inflamed. Among the most common diseases we can mention the following:
- Polyps: Tissue growths in the colon that are usually benign but can become cancerous.
- Ulcerative colitis: ulcers present in the colon and rectum.
- Diverticulitis: inflammation or infection of diverticula -small sacs- in the colon.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, bloating and abdominal cramps.
- Colorectal Cancer: Tumor formation in the lining of the large intestine. The risk of developing it increases after the age of 50.
In some of these conditions one of the symptoms that may arise is inflammation of the colon, a medical condition known as colitis. But what are its most common signs and causes? We find out for you.
Symptoms of an inflamed colon
Although it is more common and usual to talk about the inflammation of other organs of our body, such as the case of the liver or the pancreas, the truth is that the colon also becomes inflamed. And when this happens we are faced with a medical condition known as colitis, which basically consists of inflammation or swelling of the colon or large intestine.
Its symptoms can actually be quite diverse and unclear, although the most common are the following:
- Abdominal pain: It can be felt mostly in the lower abdomen. This pain can be constant or intermittent.
- Bloating: It is common to feel the abdomen full, swollen, or tight.
- Bloody stools: it can be present in small amounts (only being possible to detect it by means of a fecal occult blood test), or it can change the appearance and color of the stools when there is enough of it.
- Diarrhea: consists of soft and liquid stools, which are repeated in quantity throughout the day.
- Other symptoms: such as chills, constant urge to have bowel movements, and dehydration.
What are your causes?
In reality, there are several causes that can cause inflammation of the colon, since there are many conditions that can cause swelling of the large intestine. Here are the most common:
Disease that causes inflammation of parts of the digestive tube, almost always compromising the beginning of the large intestine and the lower end of the small intestine. Its causes are unknown, although we are facing a condition that arises when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. It is, therefore, an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of some parts of the digestive tract, with thickening of the intestinal walls.
Some factors are known that can influence its appearance: family history and genes, certain environmental factors, smoking and the body’s tendency to overreact to normal bacteria present in the intestines.
A condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the colon and rectum, related to Cohn’s disease as it is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Its causes are also unknown, although it is usually suffered by people with problems with the immune system. On the other hand, there are also risk factors such as family history or suffering from other autoimmune diseases.
It is one of the most common causes. They basically consist of infections that cause swelling of the colon, usually as a result of a viral infection, a parasite or food poisoning due to bacteria.
It is usually accompanied by other related symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and dehydration.
Also known as ischemia of the colon, it consists of a sudden inflammation of the colon when there is a temporary reduction or loss of blood flow to part of the large intestine.
It especially affects people over 50 years of age with a history of peripheral vascular disease. However, there are also certain risk factors such as: irritable bowel syndrome, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, blockage of the large intestine, atrial fibrillation or rheumatoid arthritis.