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Ileitis is a relatively rare condition in which there is inflammation of the ileum. The ileum is the last, longest, and narrowest of the three parts that make up the small intestine. The intestine is a tube shaped structure that is part of the digestive tract. The small intestine is a part of the intestine that takes in all of the nutrients (healthy substances) that the body needs. Ileitis can also involve the colon, which is the major part of the large intestine. The large intestine absorbs moisture from the matter that is left after it is digested in the small intestine, and excretes the waste from the anus. Excrete means to release from the body as waste. Ileitis can be chronic, meaning it has lasted a long time. Ileitis can also be acute, meaning it has occurred suddenly.


Signs and symptoms of ileitis include very sharp pain in the lower right part of the belly. Other symptoms include swelling of the belly, fever, loss of appetite, constipation (difficulty pooping), and/or diarrhea. Over time, ileitis can cause weight loss and anemia. Anemia is a condition in which there is an abnormally low amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is a substance present in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen to cells in the body.

Ileitis affects males and females in equal numbers. It usually affects people under the age of 40.


There are many possible causes of ileitis. Most often, there is something present that irritates the ileum and causes an abnormal reaction. However, the specific substance that is causing the irritation is often difficult to identify. Complications of surgery to the digestive system can also cause ileitis, as can an infection of the small intestine. Another cause of ileitis is Crohn's disease, in which any part of the digestive tract (most commonly the lower part of the ileum) becomes inflamed.


In some instances after the first sudden attack of ileitis, the condition does not need any treatment and goes away by itself. In such cases, a full recovery can be expected. However, most people with ileitis have the chronic (long-term) form, in which the attacks continue to occur. The major goal of the treatment is to relieve the symptoms since there is no specific treatment for ileitis. Rest and eating a healthy, balanced diet is advised. If the condition is caused by an infection, medications used to fight the bacteria that causes the infection may be given. Medications may also be given that decrease or heal the inflammation causing the problem. In the worst case scenario, surgery can be used to go around or remove the damaged area of the ileum. It should be noted that surgery usually does not eliminate the condition.


Ileitis comes from the Latin word "ileum" meaning "intestine," and the Greek word "itis" meaning "inflammation." Put the two words together and you have "intestine inflammation."