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What Is Eosinophilic Colitis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Eosinophilic colitis is a primary inflammation of the bowel associated with large numbers of white blood cells that flood the region. The condition appears to be the result of a hypersensitivity response in the immune system, and is treatable with medications and dietary modification. It typically appears in neonates and young adults, and must be diagnosed with care to avoid confusing it with other conditions.

Numerous issues can cause colitis, a general term for bowel inflammation which can vary in severity depending on the mucous membranes involved. Patients experience similar symptoms with all forms, including loose stool, nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss. The stool can be bloody in some cases, and may contain heavy strands of mucus. Infection, inflammatory conditions, reactions to foreign objects, and some genetic conditions can cause colitis. This condition can be common in young children or people who are under stress that might be related to travel, major life changes, or personal issues.

Eosinophilic colitis is a primary inflammation; there is no underlying cause or explanation for the condition. The patient’s bowel develops a state of inflammation that may get worse without treatment. Immediate care for eosinophilic colitis can include corticosteroids to address the inflammation along with bowel protectant medications to address lesions. Dietary modifications like increasing fiber can also help increase the patient’s comfort, reduce the inflammation, and solidify the stool.

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Careful medical evaluation is needed in a case of suspected eosinophilic colitis. If it is actually caused by an underlying process in the patient’s body, missing the cause might mean the treatment is not appropriate. This could lead to delays in treatment that might cause complications. For example, if the patient actually has a foreign object in the bowel, it might rupture, which would require an emergency surgery to correct the problem.

Some colitis workups can include testing of fecal samples to check for microorganisms and abnormal levels of white blood cells, x-rays and other imaging to look at the gut, biopsy of the gut lining, or blood testing to evaluate the patient. These measures may be recommended to get to the root cause and confirm an eosinophilic colitis diagnosis through the process of elimination. Treatment must proceed until the patient is fully recovered and the bowel has returned to normal. It is important to support the patient with rest and fluids, as colitis-associated diarrhea can cause fluid loss that may put the patient at risk of dehydration and serious complications.

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