Acute Colitis : Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment

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What is Acute Colitis? What are its Symptoms?

Acute Colitis can be defined as the swelling of colon, part of the bigger intestine and which is noticed after some time following an irritation.

symptoms of acute colitis

Sudden abdominal pain or cramps in either the left or right side is a sign of acute colitis.

There is an exigency felt in bowel movement.

Diarrhea, which is linked to loose bowel movements, too is a sign of acute colitis.

Other symptoms include fever, bowel bleeding, vomiting and nausea.


Acute colitis can occur due to several reasons. Some of them being:

Food poisoning due to bacteria or parasites is the most common cause for acute colitis. This is infectious and is usually confused with traveler’s diarrhea because of similar signs. If the infection is due to bacteria, then the symptoms are seen instantly in 12-72 hrs whereas it may take weeks for symptoms of a parasite infested acute colitis.

Antibiotics usually kill normal bowel bacteria along with other bacteria. This enables the overgrowth of another harmful bacteria Clostridium difficile that causes acute colitis.

Clotting of blood in the abdominal artery along with an unexpected and severe pain in the abdomen and bloody mucus leads to colitis. Blockage of colon due to severe constipation and infection of clonic diverticles are the other causes of acute colitis.

How is Acute Colitis Diagnosed?

A history of a suspicious meal that points towards food poisoning is considered as the easy source to diagnose a case of acute colitis. Even the recent use of antibiotics leads to suspicion as these being the cause for acute colitis.

If a thorough examination of the body reveals bloated stomach combined with softness on the either or one side of the stomach, a high chance of acute colitis is assumed.

Blood tests show increased levels of leukocytes in acute colitis.

If suffering from acute colitis, the stool test reveals the presence of bacteria and parasites whereas a Hemoccult test confirms the presence of blood in stool sample.

Treatment of Acute Colitis

The treatment procedure for acute colitis varies according to cause leading to the condition. The treatment usually involves change in diet and use of antibiotics. In some rare cases of colon obstruction or tearing, an immediate surgery becomes mandatory.



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