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LYMPHOCYTIC COLITIS

Lymphocytic colitis is a type of bowel inflammation that affects the large intestine or colon. It is one of the types of microscopic colitis. Lymphocytic colitis is referred to as microscopic colitis because colonoscopy test does not show any signs of inflammation on the wall of the colon. The tissue sample from the colon is examined under the microscope which helps in the diagnosis of the condition.

People suffering from lymphocytic colitis experience non-bloody watery stool. Diarrhea may be continuous or may take place in episodes. Pain in the abdomen and cramps are the most common signs of the condition. The damage to the colon may be caused due to bacteria and the release of their toxins which results in the inflammation of the surface of the colon.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The signs and symptoms of lymphocytic colitis are:

  • Watery stools
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Pan in the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal discomfort

CAUSES

The cause of inflammation in the colon due to lymphocytic colitis is not clear, however, a few causes of lymphocytic colitis are:

  • Bacteria may be one of the main causes of inflammation in the colon as it may produce toxins that irritate the colon lining or the wall of the colon.
  • Mediations may also cause irritation in the lining of the colon.
  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease etc which are associated to microscopic colitis may also cause inflammation in the colon.
  • Viruses also play a major role in causing swelling or inflammation in the colon.

RISK FACTORS

The following risk factors of microscopic colitis are:

  • People between the ages 50 and 70 years are at a risk of developing lymphocytic colitis. This condition is more common among women than men.
  • People with lymphocytic colitis usually also suffer from autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, thyroid disease etc.
  • People with a family history of the disease may also be at a risk of developing this condition.
  • Smokers may also be at a risk of developing lymphocytic colitis.

DIAGNOSIS

The following are the tests performed to diagnose lymphocytic colitis.

  • Physical examination is the first thing the doctor performs. The doctor may also ask for the complete medical history of the patient.
  • Blood test is performed to check the levels of white blood cells as an increase in the level of white blood cells may indicate the presence of infection.
  • Ultrasound and CT scan are performed in a patient suffering from lymphocytic colitis to get a clear view of the images of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy is a test performed which uses a camera and a lighted tube that allows the doctor to look directly inside the colon, and stomach. A colonoscopy test is performed for a better evaluation of the condition, to check for the presence of inflamed tissues.

TREATMENT

Lymphocytic colitis may go away on its own without any treatment. If the condition persists, the doctor may suggest these steps.

  • Avoid having food and drinks that increase or worsen the symptoms such as fatty food, dairy products, caffeine etc.
  • Have food which is rich in fiber or take fiber supplements.
  • Take the medications prescribed by the doctor.
  • The doctor may prescribe over the-counter medicines such as Imodium and Pepto-Bismol to treat the condition.
  • The doctor may also prescribe a few drugs which may help in reducing inflammation. The drugs include Asacol, Colazal, Azulfidine or steroids which are useful in bringing down swelling in people suffering from lymphocytic colitis.
  • If these medicines do not work and the condition remains the same, the patient may have to undergo a surgery to treat lymphocytic colitis.

PREVENTION

The preventive measures for lymphocytic colitis are:

  • Eat more fibrous food
  • Drink plenty of fluids, which may include water, juice, soups or any other drink
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take the medicines prescribed by the doctor
  • Do not stress yourself
  • Avoid spicy food
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