Types of Colitis

What are the different types of colitis?

There are many types of colitis. They are usually classified by the etiology. Types of colitis include:


  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) - a group of chronic colitides. Main article: Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Ulcerative colitis - a chronic colitis that affects the large intestine.
    • Crohn's disease - a type of IBD often leads to a colitis.


  • Microscopic colitis - a colitis is diagnosed by microscopic examination of colonic tissue; macroscopically it is normal appearing.
    • Lymphocytic colitis.
    • Collagenous colitis.


  • Diversion colitis.
  • Chemical colitis.

Vascular disease

  • Ischemic colitis.


  • Infectious colitis.

A well-known subtype of infectious colitis is pseudomembranous colitis, which results from infection by a toxigenic (produces toxins) strain of Clostridium difficile (c-diff).

Entero hemorrhagic colitis may be caused by Shiga toxin in Shigella dysenteriae or Shigatoxigenic group of Escherichia coli (STEC), which includes serotype O157:H7 and other enterohemorrhagic E. coli.

Parasitic infections, like those caused by Entamoeba histolytica, can also cause colitis.

Unclassifiable colitides

Indeterminate colitis is a term used for a colitis that has features of both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Indeterminate colitis' behaviour is usually closer to ulcerative colitis than Crohn's disease.

Atypical colitis is a phrase that is occasionally used by physicians for a colitis that does not conform to criteria for accepted types of colitis. It is not an accepted diagnosis per se and, as such, a colitis that cannot be definitively classified.

Severity of colitides

Fulminant colitis is any colitis that becomes worse rapidly. In addition to the diarrhea, fever, and anemia seen in colitis, the patient has severe abdominal pain and presents a clinical picture similar to that of septicemia, where shock is present. About half of human patients require surgery. In horses, the fulminant colitis known as colitis X usually results in death within 24 hours.

Irritable bowel syndrome, a separate disease, has been called spastic colitis. This name may lead to confusion, since colitis is not always a feature of irritable bowel syndrome. Since the etiology of IBS is currently unknown and possibly multifactorial, there may be some overlap in symptoms between IBS and the various forms of colitis.

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