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What are the Different Types of Colitis?

Colitis, an inflammation of the colon, manifests in various forms, each with distinct causes and symptoms. From Ulcerative Colitis to Ischemic Colitis, understanding these types is crucial for effective treatment. Pseudomembranous Colitis, often linked to antibiotics, and Microscopic Colitis, more subtle in its presentation, also demand attention. Discover how these conditions affect the gut—what might your symptoms indicate? Continue exploring to uncover the intricacies of each type.
Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

There are several different types of colitis, however they all result in the inflammation of the lining of the colon. The colon receives waste materials from the small intestine and transports them to the anus. When it becomes inflamed, this may result in symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloody stool. There are different types of this condition, known as infectious, ischemic, and microscopic colitis.

Infectious colitis is most often caused by bacteria, however, it may also be caused by a virus. It is often a result of eating contaminated or improperly prepared food. Bacteria such as salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and campylobacter are common culprits. The illness can also be caused by the suppression of healthy, beneficial bacteria while a patient takes antibiotics. This deficiency can allow harmful bacteria to flourish.

Not all types of colitis are caused by bacteria. Ischemic is a term that refers to a lack of blood. Ischemic colitis means that the colon does not have sufficient blood to function properly. This causes inflammation.

A Salmonella infection can cause colitis.
A Salmonella infection can cause colitis.

A lack of sufficient blood to the colon may be a result of anemia or low blood pressure, as these conditions interfere with blood flow. It is also often caused by the narrowing of the arteries, which can be a result of high cholesterol, smoking, or the natural aging process. In some cases, ischemic colitis can result from an obstruction to blood circulation. This may occur when a patient has a twisted bowel.

A human colon.
A human colon.

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is another kind of colon inflammation. Just as there are different types of colitis, there are also different types of UC. Ulcerative proctitis means that the swelling occurs in the rectum. Such patients may experience the usual symptoms as well as urgent bowel movements.

Proctosigmoiditis is another kind of UC, in which both the rectum and the sigmoid colon are inflamed. The sigmoid colon is the last part of the colon. Sufferers may experience abdominal pain on the left side of the body, as well as urgent bowel movements.

Prescription medication for colitis.
Prescription medication for colitis.

Other types of colitis include left-sided colitis and pancolitis. Both of these conditions are kinds of UC. Pancolitis occurs when the entire colon is inflamed. Patients may experience weight loss. Left-sided colitis occurs when the rectum, sigmoid colon, and the section of the bowel called the descending colon are swollen.

Another type, microscopic colitis, requires a tissue biopsy to diagnose. There are two types of microscopic colitis — collagenous and lymphocytic. Collagenous refers to the accumulation of collagen proteins. Lymphocytic refers to a build-up of white blood cells. Both of these conditions result in the inflammation characteristic of this illness.

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Discussion Comments


Some people confuse colitis with irritable bowel syndrome, but they are not the same thing, even though some of the symptoms are similar. In some cases, colitis might require colitis surgery, irritable bowel syndrome can be kept under control by adjusting your diet. With irritable bowel syndrome, a few simple changes in the foods you eat can make a big difference.

By the way, irritable bowel syndrome, like colitis, puts you at a greater risk of getting cancer, so you should be aware of that.


I agree with @Drentel that you have to be sure to get regular checkups when you have colitis. When you do get regular medical attention and procedures like the colonoscopy then the chances of you developing cancer are not much greater than anyone else because these tests can detect polyps before they become cancer. Then the polyps can be removed while they are still not harmful.


I have a friend who has ulcerated colitis and he is always having issues with his stomach and digestive system. Because of this condition he has to go for regular examinations and tests to check for cancer. I think any type of colitis would mean you need to be more aware of the chances of cancer developing in your colon.

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    • A Salmonella infection can cause colitis.
      By: Lyuba Bunakova
      A Salmonella infection can cause colitis.
    • A human colon.
      By: Stockerteam
      A human colon.
    • Prescription medication for colitis.
      By: Andrew S.
      Prescription medication for colitis.
    • A diagram showing ulcerative colitis and other colon diseases.
      By: Alila
      A diagram showing ulcerative colitis and other colon diseases.