Enterocolitis is an inflammation of the digestive tract, involving enteritis of the small intestine and colitis of the colon. It may be caused by various infections, with bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, or other causes. Common clinical manifestations of enterocolitis are frequent diarrheal defecations, with or without nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, chills, alteration of general condition. General manifestations are given by the dissemination of the infectious agent or its toxins throughout the body, or – most frequently – by significant losses of water and minerals, the consequence of diarrhea and vomiting.
Among the causal agents of acute enterocolitis are:
- bacteria: Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, Campylobacter etc.;
- viruses: enteroviruses, rotaviruses, Norwalk virus, adenoviruses;
- fungi: candidiasis, especially in immunosuppressed patients or who have previously received prolonged antibiotic treatment;
- parasites: Giardia lamblia (with high frequency of infestation in the population, but not always with clinical manifestations), Balantidium coli, Blastocystis homnis, Cryptosporidium (diarrhea in people with immunosuppression), Entamoeba histolytica (produces the amebian dysentery, common in tropical areas).
Specific types of enterocolitis include:
- necrotizing enterocolitis (most common in premature infants)
- pseudomembranous enterocolitis (also called "Pseudomembranous colitis")
Treatment depends on aetiology e.g. Antibiotics such as metronidazole for bacteria infection, antiviral drug therapy for viral infection and anti-helminths for parasitic infections
- McFarland, Joseph (1904). A Text-book of Pathology: For Practitioners and Students. W.B. Saunders. p. 466. Retrieved 7 March 2018.