This time last year, I was diagnosed with a type of inflammatory bowel disease called Microscopic Colitis (MC). The condition gets it’s name because the large bowel (colon) lining looks normal during colonoscopy (a test to look inside your large bowel) and can only be seen when tissue samples are taken from the colon and examined under the microscope. The exact cause of microscopic colitis is unknown and treatment depends on the severity of symptoms which can range from mild to very severe. Some people recover spontaneously and continue to keep well, while for others the condition comes and goes. There is no cure at present.
Microscopic colitis is the term used to cover two types of bowel inflammation that affect the colon, called Collagenous Colitis and Lymphocytic Colitis. The main symptom of both these conditions is chronic (ongoing), watery diarrhoea without blood. Urgency and fatigue are also common. Nocturnal diarrhoea differentiates this condition from irritable bowel syndrome.
At first, my GP thought that I was suffering from an antibiotic-associated colitis (Clostridium difficile) as the severe colitis followed prolonged antibiotic treatment but repeat laboratory tests ruled this infection out. I was subsequently referred to a gastroenterologist who scoped my entire digestive tract and took biopsies for analysis. Two weeks later, the biopsy results confirmed a diagnosis of collagenous colitis and treatment was immediately commenced. As anti-diarrhoeal drugs had already proved ineffective in my case, I was prescribed the same anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, with good effect.
Microscopic colitis is classified as a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but is different from and not usually as severe as the better known types of IBD, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). However, this condition is still commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Information Source: The National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (NACC).