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Learning About Colitis

Location of colon, rectum, and anus

What is colitis?

Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the colon. The colon makes up most of the large intestine. Many conditions can cause colitis.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of colitis may include diarrhea that may be bloody, belly pain, or a fever.

You may also have an urgent need to move your bowels or have pain when you move your bowels. Or you may have bleeding from the rectum or weight loss.

Sometimes symptoms go away on their own. If they don't go away, or if you have bleeding or severe pain, call your doctor or nurse advice line right away.

How is it diagnosed?

You may need blood tests or a stool test to find colitis. You also may need imaging tests like a CT scan. You may have a colonoscopy. In some cases, the doctor may want to test a sample of tissue from the intestine. This test is called a biopsy.

How is it treated?

Treatment for colitis depends on the condition that is causing it. Antibiotics may be used to treat an infection. Diet changes may help with symptoms. Other medicines can also help to relieve inflammation and treat symptoms. In some cases, surgery to remove parts of the intestine may be needed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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