Colitis occurs as a result of presence of inflammation in the colon or large intestines. Infectious colitis is caused by bacteria, virus or parasite. It is difficult for an individual to know if their colon is inflamed without consulting a gastroenterologist.
If one is experiencing symptoms of infectious colitis, then a colonoscopy is highly recommended to look at the health of the colon.
Symptoms of Infectious Colitis
- Stomach cramping
- Mild fever
- Abdominal pain
- Body aches
- Frequent diarrhea
- Mucus-filled bowel movement
Diagnosis of Infectious Colitis
During diagnosis, the doctor will begin by inquiring about the symptoms, when they began, and possibly what the patient was eating and drinking at the time. He/she will also ask about the current medication and the general health conditions that one has been recently treated for.
A physical examination will also be conducted then the doctor will order the following tests:
- Blood tests: A small amount will be drawn using a needle and then sent to the lab for analysis
- Stool tests: A small sample of the patient’s poop will be evaluated in the lab
Proteins in the patient’s feces can be indicators of infection and occasionally exhibit signs of inflammation.
- Imaging examinations can provide more precise information about one’s disease and confirm inflammation.
- Endoscopic examinations, such as colonoscopies and flexible sigmoidoscopies, enable the doctor to collect tissue samples from the patient’s colon (biopsy).
Treatment for Infectious Colitis
Depending on the origin of the patient’s infection, the gastroenterologist will prescribe different medication. For instance, a parasitic infection needs to be treated with an anti parasitic medicine, a bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics (which may include the use of an antibiotic or anti fungal medication).
Possible Complications of Infectious Colitis
If left untreated, infectious colitis can lead to:
- Increased risk of colon cancer: Long-term inflammation is linked to cellular alterations in one’s colon wall that can occasionally develop into malignant alterations.
- Increased risk of other inflammatory diseases: Inflammatory disorders in other regions of the body are more prevalent in people with inflammatory bowel diseases such as osteoarthritis (joint inflammation), and primary sclerosing cholangitis (inflammation in the liver)
- Perforation: An individual’s colon walls can become brittle from chronic inflammation, increasing the risk of colon rupture. This can result in colon bacteria infecting the abdominal cavity which can lead to peritonitis, as well as possibly the bloodstream. This can result in septicemia.
- Toxic megacolon: The wall of a person’s colon may dilate (widen) as a result of severe inflammation, which may also prevent the colon’s normal muscle contractions (peristalsis).