Microscopic Colitis

Microscopic Colitis is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease that affects the large bowel (colon and rectum). There are two main forms of Microscopic Colitis – Lymphocytic Colitis and Collagenous Colitis. These are very similar conditions and are commonly referred to under the single name ‘Microscopic Colitis’. 

Microscopic Colitis is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease that affects the large bowel (colon and rectum) and was first recognised by doctors 40 years ago.

Microscopic Colitis has different symptoms from those of the better known inflammatory bowel diseases - Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. In Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, the lining of the bowel is often visibly inflamed and ulcerated when viewed during colonoscopy (an instrument which allows a specialist to look into the colon).

In Microscopic Colitis, the bowel lining usually appears normal during colonoscopy. However, when biopsies (tissue samples) are taken from the bowel lining and examined under a microscope, changes in the lining can be seen – hence the name Microscopic Colitis.

Another difference is that a frequent symptom of Ulcerative Colitis, and sometimes Crohn’s Disease, is bloody diarrhoea. In Microscopic Colitis, the diarrhoea is watery but usually does not contain blood.

The long term outlook for sufferers of Microscopic Colitis is good with a recent study showing that more than three out of four people achieve long term remission from the condition. 

What are Lymphocytic and Collagenous Colitis?
How does Microscopic Colitis affect the digestive system?
What are the symptoms of Microscopic Colitis?
Who gets Microscopic Colitis?
What causes Microscopic Colitis?
How is Microscopic Colitis diagnosed?
Can Microscopic Colitis develop into Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?
How is Microscopic Colitis treated?
Will I need to take any medication?
Are there other drugs which can be used in Microscopic Colitis?
Will I need surgery?
Would it help to change my diet?
What about alternative and complementary approaches?
Will I recover?
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Last reviewed: November 2016