Common causes of colitis include bacterial food poisoning, Crohn's disease, lack of blood flow and viral infections, as listed by MedlinePlus. Other common causes include intestinal parasites, prior radiation treatments on the bowel, ulcerative colitis and pseudomembranous colitis. The treatments and prognosis for patients with colitis both depend on the underlying cause of the condition.
Colitis is an inflammation of the colon, or large intestine, as MedlinePlus explains. It can cause symptoms such as bloody stools, a constant urge to defecate, diarrhea, fever, chills and dehydration. Abdominal bloating and pain often come and go with the condition, but they may also be constant. Different types of colitis can lead to complications such as holes, bleeding or sores in the colon. Another dangerous possible complication is toxic megacolon, which occurs when the inflamed or infected colon swells rapidly to a large size.
The diagnosis of colitis begins with a review of the length and nature of its symptoms, according to MedlinePlus. This is generally followed by the use of a flexible scope inserted into the colon to observe the affected areas. This scope is often equipped to take tissue samples for later analysis. Doctors often use imaging scans, such as MRIs and CT scans, to diagnose this condition, and barium enemas are sometimes used to facilitate the imaging scans.