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What is colitis disease?

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Quick Answer

Colitis disease, or ulcerative colitis, is a disease in the large intestine that causes inflammation and ulcers filled with pus and mucus, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. It is classified as a type of irritable bowel disease.

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Full Answer

The immune system mistakes food and bacteria in the intestine for harmful substances and subsequently attacks it, causing inflammation and ulcers, states the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. This is why it is considered a type of irritable bowel disease. Colitis disease only affects the lining of the large intestine, or colon. Other parts of the intestine are not affected.

Common symptoms of colitis disease include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhea, reports WebMD. However, it may also cause fever and weight loss. Normally, the disease appears sporadically, only causing flare-ups every few months or years.

Although less severe cases may only require anti-diarrhea medicines, worse cases require aminosalicylates and steroids to decrease the body's immune response, states WebMD. Avoiding certain foods, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight may also aid symptoms.

The direct cause of colitis disease is not known. However, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America states that the disease may be initially caused by a virus or bacterial infection in the colon.

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