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Microscopic Colitis Explained

While some forms of inflammatory bowel disease can affect the small and large intestine, microscopic colitis only affects the colon, also called the large intestine. The portion of the bowel is about five feet long and scientists thing that some people may develop an abnormal immune response to things that would normally be harmless, such as food, medicines, and 'good' bacteria. These immune responses cause the colon to become inflamed and irritated from an overproduction of white blood cells. Then when foods pass through, two things happen : nutrients cannot be properly absorbed, and the colon irritation continues. People with MC typically have watery diarrhea, the red-flag symptoms for doctors to order a microscopic test to make an accurate diagnosis and rule out other problems.

Looking at the Details of Difference

Microscopic Colitis has very specific characteristics and comes in two forms, collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis. Here's what happens: The characteristics of MC only affect the cells that make up the lining of the colon--also called the epithelium--which is why it is not visually obvious during a colonoscopy or signmoidoscopy. However, a small tissue sample when seen under the microscope will show changes in the epithelium. 

Since you diagnosis is microscopic lymphocytic colitis, this means the specialist who examined your epithelial cells saw an increased enumber of lympphocytes, which are white blood cells. Lymphocytes are crucial player in your immune system, and are normally released in response to your body detecting the need to 'fight off a harmful intruder such as bacteria or a toxin. In microscopic colitis, however there is abnormal immune response, so the white blood cells arc released by mistake. The result is chonic inflammation in the epithelium.

Who Develops this Condition and Why? 

Microscopic colitis is most commonly found in people age 45 and over, but more women than men seem to have lymphocytic colitis. 

Getting Symptom Relief

Lymphocytic colitis can be treated a number of ways, Foods that seem to cause irritation and an increase in diarrhea symptoms such as high fat, caffeine and lactose-containing foods, can be eliminated. People may require a corticostcriod to eff.cctively control their symptoms. Another medicine called cholestryramine, used for other gastrointestinal problems, is also found to be effective for this condition. 

What Next? 

Microscopic lymphocytic colitis does not progress to cancer, rarely causes the problems common in other inflammatory bowel diseases. Since many people can relapse quickly when treatment is stopped, it is important to take the medicines as prescribed and follow your doctor's recommendations. 

Always follow-up and communicate with your doctor to ask questions and report problems or concerns with your treatment or your progress.

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