What is Spastic Colitis?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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Also known as nervous colon syndrome and mucus colitis, spastic colitis is a condition in which the normal contractions in the gastrointestinal tract are accompanied by pain, bloating and noticeable changes in bowel habits. The disorder may also cause mucus to appear in the stool. All the symptoms associated with spastic colitis are also identified with irritable bowel syndrome, and many medical professionals use both terms to describe the same disorder.

An episode of spastic colitis may come about due to food allergies, such as a reaction to artificial sweeteners. People who are lactose intolerant may find themselves dealing with a bout of this condition after consuming a certain amount of dairy products. Consuming certain foods that create excess gas in the system may also trigger an episode.

Along with different spastic colitis causes, a number of different symptoms may manifest. The severity of these symptoms will vary from one person to another. In addition, it is not necessary to experience all the known symptoms of spastic colitis in order to be diagnosed with the condition.


Both constipation and diarrhea may occur during an episode of this disorder. It is not unusual for the two symptoms to alternate during a single episode or from one episode to the next. There is also a constant sense of being full and somewhat bloated around the middle. Many people find they experience more frequent bouts with flatulence during an episode, as well as cramps in the abdomen that can become quite painful.

In situations where the symptoms appear to be mild, spastic colitis treatment may center around making some dietary changes. Using fiber supplements to help restore regularity to the bowel movements may be recommended. Cutting back on foods that are known to produce gas, like raw cabbage and cauliflower, may also be in order. Different types of legumes may also be minimized or eliminated altogether from the diet.

A doctor may also recommend over the counter medications to help with the sense of bloating and the diarrhea. When this is the case, the medications should be taken as directed by the physician. If they do not seem to provide much in the way of relief, you and your doctor can look into more aggressive prescription medications that may help with your situation. This can include the use of anticholinergics, which have an impact on certain functions related to the autonomic nervous system. Some antidepressants are known to ease some of the symptoms of spastic colitis.

While the condition is ongoing, many people go for years in between bouts of spastic colitis. By learning what is likely to cause an episode to occur, and avoiding those foods or related causes, it is possible to prevent severe outbreaks. While mild episodes are still likely to appear from time to time, they are usually of short duration and can be handled with over the counter remedies.


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