What You Should Know About Microscopic Colitis

Microscopic colitis is a medical condition that involves the large intestine becoming inflamed. This leads to frequent, watery diarrhea. Its name comes from the way the disorder is diagnosed. Doctors must put colon tissue under the microscope in order to properly identify it.

intestineThere are actually two types of microscopic colitis. The first type is collagenous colitis. With this disorder, the inflammation of colon tissue is caused by a large layer of collagen developing in that area. The second kind is called lymphocytic colitis. In this case, the colon becomes inflamed because of an increase in white blood cells.

Currently, researchers aren’t sure if these two types of colitis are different disorders or just separate phases of a single condition. Thankfully, both conditions respond to the same type of treatment, and both are diagnosed in the same way.

For many people, the symptoms associated with microscopic colitis crop up and fade away on a regular basis. In some cases, they resolve without any medical intervention. If symptoms persist, you can talk to your doctor about medications that will help.

The most common microscopic colitis symptoms are watery diarrhea, sudden weight loss, nausea, cramps or pain in the abdominal area, and fecal incontinence. These symptoms are associated with a number of other stomach conditions, which means your doctor might not suspect microscopic colitis at first.

No one has determined exactly what causes microscopic colitis. However, scientists have a number of theories. Some think that it’s caused by bacteria in the colon. Others believe it’s triggered by a virus. In some cases, it appears to be an adverse reaction to medication, while other cases seem to be caused by separate conditions, like celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis.


If you’re experiencing symptoms similar to those of microscopic colitis, you should inform your doctor. You’ll want to let them know what medications you’ve been taking, including over the counter stuff like aspirin. You’ll also want to let them know if you suffer from an ongoing condition or autoimmune disorder.

If your doctor suspects that you have microscopic colitis, they’ll probably begin by taking a stool sample. This can ensure your diarrhea isn’t caused by an infection. Next, you may have a blood test or an upper endoscopy. An endoscopy allows your digestive tract to be examined with a camera. A tissue sample may also be taken for further analysis.

Lastly, other intestinal disorders will need to be ruled out. This can be done via a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy. Both procedures involve your colon being examined with a camera. If you’re not suffering from microscopic colitis, your colon should appear normal. If there are abnormalities, a biopsy may be performed.

For some, microscopic colitis symptoms disappear without receiving treatment. However, if your symptoms don’t go away or seem especially severe, you’ll want to work with your doctor to clear it up. Most doctors begin with a basic, easy to tolerate treatment. You’ll be switched to a more intense treatment if the problems persist.

One of the first things your doctor is likely to suggest is changes in diet. Foods low in fiber and low in fat can help to relieve or even prevent diarrhea. You’ll also want to cut out medications that may be causing a problem. If you take a regular medication, your doctor may suggest switching to something else.

The next phase of treatment typically involves a medication. They treat the disorder in a number of different ways. Some work to block bile acids, while others work to treat the colon inflammation. The medication your doctor recommends will depend on your particular case.

In the most severe cases of microscopic colitis, medication and dietary changes may not be enough. Surgery may be required. Thankfully, this treatment is a last resort and is very rare.


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