Colitis is defined as an inflammatory bowel disorder and is characterised by inflammation in the inner lining of the colon (large intestine) and rectum. The inflammation generally begins in the rectum and the lower part of the large intestine and gradually spreads upward to the entire colon. Colitis hardly affects the small intestine except for the lower part, which is known as the ileum.
For a person suffering from colitis, with time as the cells on the surface of the lining of the large intestine die and slough off, ulcers develop resulting in pus, mucous and bleeding. The inflammation of the inner lining of the colon may cause diarrhoea and/or frequent urge for emptying of the colon.
The symptoms of a person having colitis may vary depending upon how severe the inflammations are and where the inflammation occurs. Some of the common symptoms of such a disorder include:
A few patients may also experience some indirect symptoms such as:
A patient having such symptoms should immediately consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The diagnosis of patients suffering from colitis involves obtaining the medical history of the patient, physical examinations and a few laboratory tests. A few popular ways of diagnosis are laboratory examination of stool sample, abdominal computed tomography, abdominal X-rays and colonoscopy.
Once the severity of the condition and the area of inflammation within the colon is accurately diagnosed, the treatment begins and it includes both either by drug therapy or by surgery (if found necessary by the doctor).
The problem of colitis is usually treated either by drug therapy or by surgery. There are several categories of drugs that may prove effective in the treatment of colitis. The type of drug prescribed by the doctor mainly depends on the severity of the condition that a patient suffers from. Moreover, the response of patients to various drugs may also be different and hence it might take some time for the doctor to find out the appropriate medicine that would be effective for a particular patient.
In addition to this, it is important for physicians to weigh out the benefits as well as the side effects of various medicines before prescribing them to their patient.
However, in severe cases of colitis, where medical treatment has no effect, the doctors may recommend for surgical treatment. The surgical treatment involves the removal of the entire colon and rectum (proctocolectomy) of the patient.
This surgical method is followed by another process known as ileoanal anastomosis where the surgeon constructs a pouch from the end of the patient’s small intestine and attaches it to the anus. This pouch functions similar to the rectum and collects the stool of the patient and helps in excreting them out normally.
Any person irrespective of their age and having symptoms such as diarrhoea along with blood or pus, abdominal pain or cramping, loss of appetite, rectal pain, bleeding of rectum, anaemia due to excess bleeding, urgency to defecate, inability to defecate despite urgency, fever, weight loss, weakness due to inflammation of the inner lining of the large intestine or rectum is said to be suffering from colitis and is eligible for this treatment.
People who do not suffer from the symptoms of colitis are considered as not having this disease and are not eligible for such treatment. Moreover, if a patient suffers from serious side effects of a particular treatment of colitis, then the doctor may recommend switching to some other effective form of treatment of the disease.
The drugs prescribed by the doctor for the treatment of colitis mainly include anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, anti-diarrhoeal medications, pain relievers (except ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and diclofenac sodium as they tend to worsen the symptoms and increase the severity of the disease) and iron supplements.
The common anti-inflammatory drugs used in the treatment of colitis include amino-salicylates and corticosteroids. The immune system suppressors used for treatment are azathioprine, mercaptopurine, cyclosporine, infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab and vedolizumab.
Like most other treatments, medications used for treating colitis also have some side effects. It is important for a patient to know how to differentiate between the symptoms of colitis and the possible side effects that may arise from its medications. A doctor, who prescribes the medicines for a patient of colitis, must always weigh out the benefits as well as the possible adverse side effects of the medication.
Some of the common side effects of the treatment of colitis include headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, rash, loss of appetite, decreased white blood cells, decreased sperm production in males, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramps, gas, hair loss, dizziness, kidney problems, weakness, pericarditis, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, weight gain, mood swings, acne, osteoporosis, cataracts, high blood sugar levels, insomnia, lymphoma and others. In case a patient suffers from some serious side effects then he/she must immediately consult a doctor for remedial measures.
The treatment of colitis involves a number of medications and proper diet (mainly fluids and excluding any type of spicy food). Even after the patient recovers from this problem, he/she needs to follow some guidelines given by the doctor in order to stay healthy.
The post treatment guidelines to be followed by a patient include taking the medicines regularly on time, having a healthy diet, taking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and practising regular exercises to facilitate proper bowel movements.
Even after recovery the patient needs to go for follow-up check-ups on a regular basis as instructed by their doctor. In case, a patient suffers from any side effects during the time of medication then he/she should consult a doctor for its remedy
The time taken for a patient of colitis to recover from this problem usually varies depending on the seriousness of the condition and the physiological response of the patient to the prescribed medications. Usually cases of mild colitis may take about 3 to 4 days to recover for children and about one week for adults. However, patients suffering from severe colitis may even take 3 to 4 weeks to recover from this condition.
The price of the treatment of colitis in India varies depending upon the seriousness of the condition of the patient and the medication that his/her doctor prescribes. Usually mild colitis can be treated with medicines that can cost as low as Rs. 1300 (for full treatment).
However, patients suffering from severe colitis may require costly medications and even surgical treatment (if necessary) and for such treatments, the price range can be between Rs. 57,400 to Rs. 7,87,500 in India. This treatment is available in almost all leading hospitals in India.
It should be remembered that colitis, being an auto-immune disease characteristically has a relapsing-remitting course and this means that there are periods of flare-ups which are then followed by a period of remission. Presently there are no medical treatments for the complete cure of colitis.
The medical treatments only tend to lessen the severity of the condition. However, conditions such as inflammation of the bowel, bloody diarrhoea and abdominal cramping can be stopped with surgical treatments.
Although medical and surgical treatments are considered as the best ways to control the conditions of colitis, there are a few alternative treatments as well. The alternative treatments for the conditions of colitis include taking of herbal and nutritional supplements, probiotics, fish oil (although excess consumption of fish oil can cause diarrhoea), Aloe Vera gel, acupuncture therapy and/or turmeric.
In addition to this, the patient should avoid consumption of spicy food, dairy products, alcohol, beverages and fibres in their diet. Eating of small light nutrition-rich meals at regular intervals throughout the day, plenty of water and multivitamin supplement helps to recover from this condition.