What are colitis, their causes and their remedies

In order not to become dehydrated due to colitis, it is very important that we drink liquids regularly, by spoonfuls so that our body does not reject it

Did you ever have a diarrhea that seems never to end ?, Who has not suffered cramps or sharp pains of guts, who has not felt in those moments of anguish the sweats and weakness, the classic "lipotimias", or lowered tension, which they make us feel frightfully weak, wanting to look for a seat or lie down on either side, thinking that as the thing went on much longer, we were not going to resist.

Everybody has suffered at some time in his life some episode of what is popularly known as "colitis", "diarrhea", continuous desire to go to the bathroom to "do the belly" without we manage to relieve ourselves, and often with fever and even blood in the feces, which have caused deep fear.

The first thing we have to understand is that what we think is colitis is not something as simple as "having diarrhea". We will find out what colitis is, what kind of disease it is, why it is, what its manifestations are, how we prevent or avoid it and how we are going to treat it when it is already established.

What is Colitis?

Colitis is a complex disease, which can have various causes and has many symptoms. One of those symptoms is diarrhea, but "having diarrhea" does not have to mean that you are sick with colitis.

Colitis is: swelling or inflammation of the large intestine, colon (hence the name of colitis). There are acute colitis that we will study and are more common.

There are other colitis, chronic colitis, whose most common cause is Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. These we will not see today.

What types of acute colitis are there?

There are different causes, so there are several types of colitis. Let's look over a diagram to get a slight idea of ​​how the so-called "colitis" is not as simple as diarrhea. Later we will explain each type simply.

Infectious colitis
Colitis due to viruses
Enterocolitis per parasite
Colitis by bacteria
Ischemic colitis
Actinic colitis
General symptoms of colitis

What can happen to us when we have colitis? The symptoms are varied:

The abdomen can hurt and have it swollen constantly or intermittently, bloody stools, have chills, constant desire to have bowel movements, who has not had cramps, dehydration, diarrhea and fever.

Tests and exams

The usual thing is that our doctor asks us about the duration of the symptoms, the intensity of the pain, as well as the frequency (that is, how many times we go to the bathroom), and since when we have the symptoms, and above all it is vital to provide information about recent trips and / or contact with water or other contaminated substances

Then, one of the various studies that the doctor could do is a colonoscopy to look at our intestines. It consists of introducing a kind of long tube (flexible probe) through the rectum, this tube carries a small camera at its end and / or tweezers to take samples of tissue. The doctor can thus diagnose colitis Heces acuosas diarrea .

For all colitis do we have the same treatment?

Treatment is directed to the cause of the disease, depending on whether it is an infection, or an inflammation, or lack of blood flow or other cause. So for each type of colitis there will be a different treatment.

What would be the possible complications of having colitis?

Bleeding, hole in the colon, toxic megacolon, sore (ulceration)

When to contact a medical professional?

A colitis is not something that is every day, but diarrhea can occur frequently, therefore: we should go to our doctor to make a diagnosis as accurate as possible if we have belly pain that does not stop, or there is blood in our stools or its color is black, or if there is diarrhea or vomiting that does not stop either, as well as if we have the abdomen swollen, hard.

It is important to understand that the prevention of colitis depends on its cause. This is why we are going to expand a bit to better understand how our intestines work, what different types of colitis there are and what their causes are, in order to take action.

Our intestines: How do they work, what do they do ...?

To understand the different types of colitis, before we have to understand a little about our intestines

The intestine is part of the digestive system of the body and is divided into small intestine and large intestine.

They are two parts with very different roles when it comes to working for the human body in terms of digestion, absorption and elimination of food.

The small intestine is a long tube rolled many times so that it can fit all inside our belly (abdomen). The "skin" that covers (mucous) the intestine inside, has many folds with structures like hairs called villi. The cells of that "skin" are also folded forming a kind of microvilli, and in them is where the enzymes are that are responsible for digesting food.

It is so long and has all those folds, so that the food that passes there has time and a lot of contact surface to be digested and absorbed its nutrients. If our intestine were a smooth pipe, the food would pass from the stomach to the outside without being fed.

small intestineIntestine thin: (a) Regions of the small intestine (b) Section of the intestinal wall showing the layers of tissue, folds and villi.
The large intestine:

Next to the small intestine is our large intestine, or colon.

The colon frames the small intestine on three sides. Through the three sections of our colon passes the food bolus, which is a pasty and semi-solid mass of digested food, until it reaches the anal canal through which the final waste is expelled (feces).

The mucosa of the large intestine is also complex but there are no villi in it. The large intestine has little or no digestive function, but absorbs water, electrolytes and numerous vitamins of the B complex and vitamin K.

Types of colitis and causes of them

Now we can better understand what types of acute colitis exist and where they originate. Depending on the cause we can say that there are three distinct types of colitis. Infectious, ischemic and actinic colitis

Infectious colitis

Infectious or parasitic colitis is the most frequent and the easiest treatment has. The most complicated thing is to diagnose it, but when you know which organism is the one that has produced the appropriate antibiotic or antiparasitic treatment, it quickly solves the problem.

When the infectious agent is habitual, all you need is a proper diet and plenty of fluid.

The predominant symptom in this type of colitis is diarrhea.

Only in specific cases (severe cases, high fever, etc.) will require studies and antibiotic treatment.

Within infectious colitis we must mention especially some types:

a) Colitis by virus (CMV): It is an inflammation of the stomach or intestine due to an infection by cytomegalovirus (CMV), it is a virus of the herpes type. CMV infection is very common. We can get it from saliva, urine, respiratory droplets, sexual contact and blood transfusions.

These viruses usually coexist with us, but usually the symptoms are mild or null in healthy people. When we have weakened immune system is when we have a higher risk of contracting this disease.

Symptoms: Ulcers may occur in the esophagus, stomach, intestines. Ulcers may include abdominal pain, difficulty or pain when swallowing, nausea and vomiting. If there are ulcers in the intestine they can also cause: bloody stools, diarrhea, fever and weight loss. Very serious infections can cause a hole in the intestine.

b) Enteripolitis due to cryptosporidium: It is a parasite that causes diarrhea. As always, it affects more people with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS patients, recipients of a transplant, etc.

Drinking water contaminated with feces is the main risk factor for getting this infection. The people most at risk are: young children, those who have contact with the sick, people who handle animals (farmers, shepherds ...) and AIDS patients.

We can get it easily if we drink contaminated water (often when we travel) and when we swim in polluted pools and lakes.

Symptoms: cramps (abdominal cramps), watery diarrhea and in large quantity, malaise, malnutrition, nausea and weight loss.

c) Pseudomembranous colitis: It is an infection of the large intestine (colon) with excessive growth of the bacterium Clostridium difficile.

This bacterium is normally in the intestine; however, it can proliferate too much if we take antibiotics in an uncontrolled way, without paying attention to our doctor. They then release a potent toxin that causes part of the colon to swell and bleed.

It is treated with specific antibiotics for this bacterium.

It usually occurs in the elderly, people who consume a lot of antibiotic and those who take medication that weakens the immune system (chemotherapy, recent surgery ...).

Symptoms: abdominal cramps, bloody stools, fever, watery diarrhea (often 5 to 10 times per day)

Ischemic colitis

It appears in elderly patients with arteriosclerosis problems. So its cause is a bad blood supply to the colon. It usually affects the left colon and, in most cases, it cures without sequelae and it proceeds in a benign way. It can be treated with antibiotics, although its efficacy has not been clearly demonstrated.

Actinic colitis

It is a colitis caused by radiation. It is usually frequent after a radiotherapy treatment of the area. Your diagnosis is reached by colonoscopy.

In addition to these three groups, it is interesting to mention "allergic" colitis due to their frequency. When we lack one of our digestive enzymes in our small intestine, unable to digest the principle on which it works, it can give us colitis.

A very frequent example. Who does not know someone who "can not digest milk?" Who has not heard of "lactose intolerance"? The ability to digest milk sugar (lactose) depends on the enzyme lactase.

This enzyme is present in all children under the age of four, but becomes inactive in most adults.

A lactase deficiency can cause diarrhea, gas, cramping and other unpleasant symptoms when we drink milk.

Natural remedies to mitigate colitis:

Taking into account the classification made of colitis, we can make use of some popular remedies that will help us reduce the symptoms so that the body finally overcomes the disease. They are, for example:

2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with two of honey in water, taken before meals.
For two weeks we can take an infusion made two teaspoons of marshmallow root, boiled 5 minutes and castings. Let cool and take a cup daily.
The juice of the guava is a magnificent astringent, therefore, take the juice of it with a teaspoon of honey, it will help us enormously.
For colics the application of four compresses made with a mixture of grated onion with water, and placing them on the abdomen, replacing them when they are cooled, is useful.
For the diarrhea it is useful to cook one measure of rice and three of water, boiling it for 12 minutes and after straining and letting it cool, take several daily glasses of the resulting liquid.
We can boil for 20 minutes 20 grams of chamomile in a liter of water, and consume it entirely, every day, for 15 days.
Another remedy that can be effective is to boil for 10 minutes a mixture of herbs made with two handfuls of angelica and three of nettle, in a liter of water. Let rest at least another 10 minutes and take a cup of the infusion before each meal.
Mixing a tablespoon of the following herbs: marjoram, thyme, and lemon balm in a cup of boiling water is also helpful in mitigating symptoms. Cover the cup and let it rest for 10 minutes, taking two cups a day.
A somewhat extreme remedy may be to make a smoothie of a raw potato (previously washed, like the rest), six sticks of perjil, four stalks of celery and 7 carrots, all raw, and drink the liquefied of this mixture before of breakfast for 10 days. It is necessary that we rest after another ten days, before resuming the capture.
There are some other remedies, but as we have said, they are all palliative, it is essential that we always consult the doctor and determine the origin of the colitis, since the natural remedies are extra aids. And above all, our diet must be balanced and our intestinal flora must be healthy, taking, if necessary, probiotics, to regenerate it, since the taking of antibiotics usually destroys it totally or partially.