Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Colitis

General Information

Colitis causes inflammation in the colon and ileitis causes inflammation in the small intestine. Inflammatory bowel disease is the term used to describe the inflammatory diseases of the bowel for which the cause is unknown.

Although inflammatory bowel disease regularly affects the young, there is also a late occurrence between ages 50 and 60. It is possible for elderly patients to have a first attack of inflammatory bowel disease. When the disease occurs for the first time in elderly patients, it often follows a more severe and progressive course.

Inflammatory bowel disease may remain confined to the colon (the large intestine) or the small intestine, or it may affect both areas of the intestinal tract. Problems may occur outside the gastrointestinal tract. These extraintestinal problems may include the skin, joints, eyes, and liver.

Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and causes diarrhea and rectal bleeding. A change in bowel habit, particularly when associated with bleeding, should be reported to your physician promptly.

When the inflammation involves the small intestine or the small and large intestines combined, it is known as Crohn’s disease.

Important Points in Treatment
Treatment involves the use of drugs to reduce the inflammation and to permit the colon and/or the small intestine to heal. Treatment often suppresses the disease, but it does not result in complete healing. Continued treatment is necessary to hold the symptoms at bay.

Complications, including severe toxic changes, perforation of the intestine, and scarring, can occur. Complications may require the intervention of the surgeon to resolve the difficulties.

It is wise to avoid milk and milk products, which are digested poorly in the diseased intestine.

Notify Our Office If ...

  • You have a change in bowel habit, particularly when associated with bleeding.