What Causes Colitis?

Colitis refers to inflammation of the colon, which is the large intestine. The exact cause of colitis can vary depending on the specific type of colitis. Here are some common causes:

  1. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Colitis is often associated with two main types of IBD: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The exact cause of IBD is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve an abnormal immune response in genetically predisposed individuals. Environmental factors, an overactive immune system, and an imbalance in the gut microbiota may contribute to the development of IBD.
  2. Infection: Certain infections can lead to colitis. Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections, such as Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), Escherichia coli (E. coli), or cytomegalovirus (CMV), can cause inflammation in the colon.
  3. Ischemic colitis: This type of colitis occurs when blood flow to the colon is reduced or blocked, leading to damage and inflammation. Ischemic colitis can be caused by conditions that affect blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis, blood clots, or vasculitis.
  4. Microscopic colitis: Microscopic colitis is a type of colitis characterized by chronic inflammation of the colon, but the cause is unknown. It is thought to be related to an autoimmune or immune-mediated process.
  5. Radiation colitis: Colitis can develop as a result of radiation therapy for cancer treatment. The radiation can damage the cells lining the colon, leading to inflammation.
  6. Allergic or immune reactions: In some cases, colitis may be triggered by an allergic or immune response to certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antibiotics.

It’s important to note that different types of colitis may require different approaches to diagnosis and treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of colitis, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, or weight loss, it is crucial to seek medical attention for a proper evaluation and diagnosis. A healthcare professional can determine the underlying cause of colitis and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.