Microscopic Colitis

What is Microscopic Colitis?

When individuals have Microscopic Colitis, they have an inflamed colon. Collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis are the two forms of this disorder.

With lymphocytic colitis, an individual has a higher amount of lymphocytes than normal. When a person has collagenous colitis, the collagen has expanded and become thicker. The symptoms and treatments for both of these conditions are identical.

The exact reasons why individuals get this disorder are not known, but there are various theories, which include an atypical response from the immune system when exposed to bacteria, infections, certain medications, genetics and autoimmune disorders.

What are the Symptoms of Microscopic Colitis?

The most noted symptom of microscopic colitis is frequent occurrences of diarrhea that has a watery consistency. Individuals often have episodes of diarrhea that last for months or years. When the diarrhea ceases, it may be a long time before it starts up again.

Along with loose stools, many people also experience cramping, bloating and pain in their abdomen. Dehydration is another symptom of this disorder when individuals do not drink enough fluids to make up for the water loss due to the diarrhea. The urge to have a bowel movement often appears suddenly and some individuals may unknowingly pass stool during the night while they sleep.

How is Microscopic Colitis Treated?

Some individuals can treat their microscopic colitis by changing their eating habits. This includes avoiding the consumption of caffeine, dairy products and foods that are extremely fatty.

Adding fiber to the diet with fiber-rich foods or supplements can also help to control loose stools. Taking drugstore medications that help to control diarrhea is also an option. If these at-home treatments are not effective, physicians may prescribe corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, immunomodulators or cholestyramine resin. In rare cases, when medications do not help the condition and the symptoms become excessive, surgery may be performed to take out the colon.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017