Simply put, colitis is inflammation of the colon. “Itis” refers to inflammation – think about arthritis, gingivitis, appendicitis. All are inflammation of something. “Colon” is our large intestine, the final section of our digestive system. It removes salt, water and some nutrients from our food. The average size is 166 cm for males, 155 cm for females.* (That’s 65 / 61 inches.) Over 5 feet. That’s a lot of colon!
Colitis is one of several diseases related to the digestive system. And there are different types of colitis, too. I have ulcerative colitis. Instead of me trying to explain them all, I’m going to provide a link to a video that I think does a great job with the explanation.
I can talk about what colitis is not.
It is not something I’ve eaten. For some people, it can be exacerbated by certain foods, but it is not caused by food.
It is not contagious. It can run in families but you can’t catch it from me. I promise.
It cannot be cured. Some people find that some practices help, such as removing certain foods from one’s diet, adding other foods, meditation and stress reduction, medication.
Some people need surgery. Others do not.
It comes and it goes. I can have good days. I have have bad days. Some people have really bad days. Unable to work or go for a walk or go on vacation. Man – I really feel for those people. Overall, I’ve been very fortunate with my disease. More about that in other posts.
It is not just about poop. Yes, diarrhea is a symptom. But there is more to it that just talking about poop. (I had posted a question on a colitis support group on FB about the name of this blog. Of course, all sorts of people wanted it to mention poop in the name. That’s not what this blog is focused on, so I rejected those suggestions.)
It is nothing to be embarrassed about. Most people cringe and grimace when gut and poop problems are mentioned. They aren’t willing to talk about problems they may be having. They ignore problems. They pretend it isn’t happening. They assume it is going to go away. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
I’ve learned a lot about colitis and IBD and IBS and Crohn’s disease just reading things for this blog. Far more than my doctors have taught me. I wonder if that is because more information is available now than 20 years ago or if people are more open about discussing it. I don’t know. What I DO know is that it is important to be educated and aware. I’m trying to do my part.
* That’s according to Wikipedia. Because the medical websites I checked gave all sorts of information about diseases of the colon but no information about the physical properties of it. Go figure.