Microscopic colitis is a chronic disorder causing inflammation of the colon. There are several treatment options for microscopic colitis. Treatments include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, oral rehydration therapy, intravenous therapy and surgery. Treatments can be used to control diarrhoea and reduce colon inflammation.
The exact cause of microscopic colitis is unknown, but it is believed that certain conditions may increase the risk of getting microscopic colitis. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, bacteria or bacterial toxins may be responsible for causing damage and inflammation to the colon. Microscopic colitis may also be a result of the body's immune system destroying healthy cells for unknown reasons (autoimmune response).
The most common and primary symptom of microscopic colitis is chronic diarrhoea. Chronic diarrhoea is caused when the collagen and inflammation interferes with the absorption of water from the colon. Over time, diarrhoea may be ongoing or there may be less frequent occurrences. Although diarrhoea is the primary symptom, other possible symptoms can occur. Body weakness, weight loss, nausea or vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain are all possible symptoms. If symptoms continue, a professional diagnosis can determine if microscopic colitis is present.
The diagnosis of microscopic colitis can only be determined through a microscopic examination, because the inflammation is in the lining of the colon and is not visible on the surface. A biopsy (small piece of tissue) is taken from different regions of the normal colon lining during a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy and the tissue is examined under a microscope. Multiple biopsies may be required to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment options.
Microscopic colitis has been known to resolve on its own, but several options are available for treatment. Certain lifestyle changes may be recommended to treat microscopic colitis; eliminating foods containing lactose and caffeine or reducing the amount of fat intake are some recommended lifestyle changes for treating microscopic colitis. Using over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen should also be avoided.
Antibiotic treatment may be given to prevent or treat any type of infection. Anti-diarrheal medications can be used to treat severe cases of diarrhoea. Because dehydration can be a result of diarrhoea, rehydration therapy is also used to replenish lost fluids. Anti-inflammatory medications or steroids may be used to reduce swelling or inflammation of the affected area of the colon. However, long term use of steroids can cause high blood pressure and bone loss.
Although rarely recommended, surgery can be performed to remove part or all of the affected area of the colon. Surgery is only recommended when the condition has no response to other forms of treatment or medications.
Microscopic colitis can also be called lymphocytic colitis or collagenous colitis. Women and men between 60 and 80 years of age are equally affected with a diagnosis of lymphocytic colitis. But in collagenous colitis, people are also diagnosed between 60 and 80 years of age and women are diagnosed more often than men.
Although a condition that affects the colon, microscopic colitis does not increase the risk of colon cancer. Proper diagnosis and treatment can relieve symptoms and allow a person to live a healthy, normal life.