Ischemic Colitis – Causes and Treatment

Sudden reduction in blood flow to the colon causes ischemic colitis. Mild ischemic colitis usually subsides within a few days. However, severe colon inflammation caused by ischemic colitis might cause permanent damage to the colon.

What causes ischemic colitis?
Acute ischemic colitis occurs when blood clots develop inside the blood vessels that supply blood to the colon. Atherosclerosis is largely responsible for chronic ischemic colitis. Certain underlying health disorders increase the risk of this colon disorder. People with diabetes, hernia, colon cancer and vasculitis have a greater risk of developing ischemic colitis. Ischemic colitis might be caused by certain viral and bacterial infections.

Dehydration increases the risk of this disorder. Ischemic colitis might develop as a side effect of radiation treatment for treating abdominal diseases. Rarely blood pressure reducing medications, pain relief medications, migraine drugs, antipsychotic drugs, estrogen replacement therapy, certain irritable bowel syndrome drugs and pseudeophedrine, a substance found in decongestants could cause ischemic colitis. According to some health experts, prolonged consumption of herbal supplements containing bitter orange, guarana and ma huang might trigger ischemic colitis.

Ischemic colitis treatment
Abdominal pain, bloody stool, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms of ischemic colitis. Severe ischemic colitis could cause gangrene of the bowel, perforation in the intestine, inflammation of the abdominal lining and in the worst case, sepsis. To prevent complications, you should visit your physician as soon as you experience the symptoms of the disease.

The disease is primarily treated with antibiotics, pain relief medications and intravenous fluids. The patient is given liquid diet. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the damaged part of the colon.

During the healing process, the ischemic colitis patient should avoid caffeine and alcohol. High fiber vegetables and fruits, seeds, nuts, beans, cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower should be eliminated from the diet until the symptoms of the disease subside. Soft foods that are nutritious and easily digestible are safe for the diseased colon. Buttermilk, banana, applesauce, coconut water, tofu and fish are beneficial for people with ischemic colitis. To prevent dehydration and constipation, which might worsen the symptoms of ischemic colitis, people suffering from this colon disorder should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water or fluids daily.