Microscopic colitis is a type of bowel inflammation that causes watery diarrhea and abdominal pain over a prolonged period of time. Like it's name suggests, microscopic colitis can only be diagnosed by a physician viewing a sample under a microscope.
There are two types of microscopic colitis, lymphocytic and collagenous. Both types show an increased number of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, in the layer of cells that line the colon. An increase in white blood cells is a response to inflammation. In lymphocytic colitis, the number of lymphocytes is higher and the tissue and lining of the colon are of normal thickness. In collagenous colitis, there is an increase in the thickness of a layer of collagen found underneath the lining of the colon.
The exact cause of microscopic colitis is unknown. Most research points to an abnormal immune response to bacteria that is normal in the colon. Other causes considered are an autoimmune disease, results of medication, infections, and genetic factors.
While it is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), microscopic colitis is much less serious and and less debilitating than the other diseases categorized as IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis). That is not to say that the symptoms can be difficult and often interfere with daily activities. Chronic diarrhea should always be reported to a gastroenterologist. An accurate diagnosis is important since so many GI conditions share symptoms. Don’t live with chronic diarrhea, make an appointment with Dr. Islam today.