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enteritis(ĕn'tərī`tĭs), inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Acute enteritis is not usually serious except in infants and older people, in whom the accompanying diarrhea can cause dehydration through the loss of fluids. The condition known as regional enteritis or Crohn's disease is a chronic disease that occurs most frequently in young adults, producing a segmented thickening of the bowel wall and narrowing of the bowel opening (lumen). The lower portion of the small intestine is usually affected, but the infection can extend up to the esophagus and down into the colon. Clinical symptoms include mild, intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fever. In prolonged cases there may be anemia and nutritional deficiency. The term enteritis is sometimes applied to the conditions of gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach commonly caused by food poisoning) and ulcerative colitiscolitis,
inflammation of the colon, or large intestine. The term "colitis" may be used to refer to any of a number of disorders involving the colon. Symptoms include diarrhea (often with blood and mucus), abdominal pain, and fever.
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inflammation of the small intestine. The three main types of enteritis in humans are duodenitis, jejunitis, and ileitis, which are distinguished by the site of inflammation. Quite often the inflammation may extend to the stomach (gastroenteritis), colon (enterocolitis), or both (gastroenterocolitis).
Acute enteritis occurs in infectious diseases, such as typhoid, paratyphoid, and cholera and as a result of food poisonings and food allergies. It is associated with inflammatory swelling and hyperemia of the small intestine’s mucosa and an increase in its secretion. Hemorrhages and ulcerations develop in severe cases. Sudden pain is felt, chiefly in the middle of the abdomen, and there often is vomiting, diarrhea, and elevated temperature.
In severe cases, symptoms of systemic intoxication, cardiovascular disorders, and dehydration are pronounced, and convulsions may occur. In mild cases, patients recover within a few days or weeks. Patients are treated in a hospital or outpatient clinic, depending on the cause and severity of the inflammation. Salt laxatives, enemas, sulfanilamides, antibiotics, antispasmodics, astringents and other agents are prescribed. It is recommended that large amounts of strong unsweetened tea be drunk. The diet is gradually varied as the patient’s condition improves.
Chronic enteritis may be caused by poor eating habits, for example, an unhealthy diet or the excessive consumption of spicy foods and strong alcoholic beverages. It also occurs as a result of helminthiases, lambliasis, geotrichosis, and chronic intoxication by lead compounds and other industrial poisons. The condition may arise from prolonged and uncontrolled use of drugs, such as salt laxatives or broad-spectrum antibiotics, and from certain congenital diseases characterized by inadequate synthesis of certain enzymes in the intestine. The mucous membrane gradually atrophies, its villi are smoothed, the production of intestinal enzymes decreases, and absorption is impaired. Patients suffer from rumbling in the abdomen, dull pain in the umbilical region, nausea, and weakness; diarrhea occurs, mainly in enterocolitis. Poor absorption in the intestine may give rise to a variety of nutritional disorders.
The diagnosis of enteritis is helped by, among other things, analysis of stools and cavitary and parietal digestion. Treatment includes proper diet and multiple vitamins, astringents and digestive enzyme preparations for diarrhea, antispasmodics for pain, and physical therapy. Hospital treatment is essential in case the condition becomes worse. At other times treatment in a sanatorium or health resort is indicated, for example, at Essentuki or Zheleznovodsk.
REFERENCEBeiul, E. A., and N. I. Ekisenina. Khronicheskie enterity i kolity. Moscow, 1975.
Bolezni organovpishchevareniia, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1975.
Gubergrits, A. Ia., and Iu. V. Linevskii. Bolezni tonkoi kishki. Moscow, 1975.