What Are the 5 Types of Colitis?

What Are the 5 Types of Colitis?

ulcerative colitis

Learn the five types of colitis and their symptoms below.

Colitis is inflammation of the lining of the colon, which is also called the large intestine. Colitis is caused either by an infection or an autoimmune condition. It is a life-long condition, which causes abdominal discomfort and pain. The discomfort is either mild or severe and recurs for a period or appears suddenly.

There are various forms of colitis and treatment depends on the type of colitis.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease characterized by tiny ulcerations in the large intestine’s inner mucosal lining. Inflammation begins at the lower end of the colon, right above the anus, and progresses upward in a continuous fashion to various distances. When only a small part of the lower intestine is affected, the condition is called ulcerative proctitis.

9 symptoms of ulcerative colitis

There is a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.

  1. Rectal bleeding
  2. Blood in stool
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Abdominal cramping and pain
  5. Anemia
  6. Constipation
  7. Inflammation of joints
  8. Fever
  9. Nodules on shins

Pseudomembranous colitis

Pseudomembranous colitis is an inflammatory disease of the large intestine. You are more susceptible to it if you have a recent history of being in a hospital and were administered antibiotics.

Bacteria in the colon occur naturally, promote digestion, and maintain the colon’s health. Using antibiotics, such as penicillin, fluoroquinolones, clindamycin, and cephalosporins, destroys healthy bacteria. This disruption in gut flora increases the chance of infiltration or outgrowing of other infection-causing bacteria, especially Clostridium difficile, which leads to pseudomembranous colitis.

The risk of developing pseudomembranous colitis increases if you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

7 symptoms of pseudomembranous colitis

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Nausea
  3. Watery stools
  4. Blood in stools
  5. Abdominal cramps and tenderness
  6. Loss of appetite
  7. Dehydration

Microscopic colitis

Microscopic colitis is a kind of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that usually affects the elderly. This condition differs from traditional IBD.

Colonic mucosa is almost normal looking, but histologic findings show increased lymphocytic infiltrates with or without collagen fiber growth. Although the cause of this condition is uncertain, it appears to share pathogenic processes with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

2 symptoms of microscopic colitis

  1. Watery diarrhea
  2. Diffuse abdominal discomfort


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment See Slideshow

Ischemic colitis

Ischemic colitis is the most common type of intestinal ischemia, which occurs when blood flow to a section of the colon is restricted or impaired. Ischemic colitis can affect any section of the colon. However, it usually produces pain on the left side of the abdomen. Ischemic colitis can range from mild to severe. Usually, the colon heals on its own without any active management.

The exact cause of reduced blood flow is unclear. However, experts believe that it could be caused by various medications including:

7 symptoms of ischemic colitis

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Blood in stool
  3. Bloating
  4. Abdominal cramps and pain
  5. Nausea
  6. Unwanted weight loss
  7. Urge to empty bowels

Allergic colitis

Allergic colitis is not a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Rather, a colon condition that mostly affects newborns and preschool children. It is caused by a food allergy, most commonly to cow’s milk, egg, soy, or wheat. It is usually associated with other allergic disorders, such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever, but it can be observed in children who have other immune system issues.

The recovery is spontaneous when allergy-causing foods are avoided from the diet.

3 symptoms of allergic colitis

  1. Stomach discomfort
  2. Loose stools
  3. Blood in stools

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Medically Reviewed on 6/2/2022


Image Source: iStock image

Azer SA, Sun Y. Colitis. [Updated 2022 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541037/

Wedro B. Common Causes of Colitis. eMedicineHealth. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/colitis/article_em.htm