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Is Microscopic Colitis Common?

Microscopic colitis is an inflammatory disease of large intestine characterized by persistent watery diarrhea and cramps in the intestine. This inflammation cannot be seen with naked eyes be detected by a microscopic study of a sample extracted from the colon. Microscopic colitis condition is different from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Microscopic colitis causes are not known. Its symptoms include non-bloody watery diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, nausea, weight loss, and others. It is not a life-threatening condition but may cause dehydration if left untreated for a long time.

Is Microscopic Colitis Common?

Is Microscopic Colitis Common?

Microscopic colitis is a common condition that triggers chronic diarrhea. Its incidence rate is 0.8 to 6 .2 per 100000 persons. It is more common in Asian countries such as India. Its incidence is increased in the past two decades more than expected. Recent studies reveal that its incidence has increased from 1.1 per 100000 persons to 19.6 per 100000 persons at the end of the year 2001.

Microscopic colitis affects women more than men. It develops usually after the age of 40 years. Its incidence is highest in adults in their 60s and 70s and increases with age. Microscopic colitis is of two types- collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis

Lymphocytic colitis equally affects men and women whereas collagenous colitis is 20 times more common in women than men.

However, both conditions cannot be differentiated by their symptoms and treatment is also the same in both of them. They are differentiated by their microscopic appearances.

Microscopic colitis is a disease of colon marked by its inflammation and irritation identified only under a microscope. If one has persistent diarrhea and cramps in the abdomen and etiology is not detected by colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, then microscopic colitis is suspected. This condition is not severe like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

This disease is not similar to them. It is also not related to cancer.

Microscopic colitis affects women more than men typically in adulthood. The risk factors of this condition can be smoking, genetic make-up, long-term consumption of some medicines such as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, heartburn drugs, antidepressants, etc. the exact reason that lead to the inflammation in the large intestine is not discovered yet. Infections caused by bacteria, virus or other toxins can trigger the inflammation of the colon. People who have an exaggerated immune system are more likely to develop microscopic colitis.

Microscopic colitis does not cause any morbid consequences but it can lead to diarrhea that can cause loss of water and other nutrients from the body. However, the condition is not life threatening but severe dehydration and electrolytic misbalances caused in the body can harm your health significantly.

Microscopic Colitis Symptoms

Symptoms are mild and can come and go many times. Microscopic colitis condition usually resolves by itself in a couple of days or weeks. The common symptoms of Microscopic colitis condition are-

  • Frequent watery stool without blood
  • Constant urging for stool
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Painful abdomen
  • Urging for the stool at night during sleep
  • Involuntary stool
  • Bloating in the abdomen
  • Weakness and fatigue

Microscopic Colitis Diagnosis

Microscopic colitis is detected by microscopic study of a sample of tissues taken from colon during colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. In colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, the appearance of colon appears normal or near to normal. Under a microscope, the colon has a distinctive appearance. Your physician can also ask you for other tests such as blood tests, stool sample analysis, upper colon endoscopy with biopsy, CT scan and MRI scan.


Microscopic colitis is one of the common conditions of the colon that cause frequent watery, non-bloody diarrhea. This condition is identified only under the microscope affects women more than men. Its incidences have increased from 1.1 to 19.6 per 100,000 people in the past two decades. Its peak incidence is marked more in people of age 60 to 70 years.


  1. “Microscopic Colitis” by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Link: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/microscopic-colitis

  2. “Microscopic Colitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment” by Cleveland Clinic Link: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17729-microscopic-colitis

  3. “Microscopic Colitis: A Review of Etiology, Treatment and Refractory Disease” by NCBI Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3567062/

  4. “Microscopic Colitis: The Frequency and Clinical Significance of Histologic Subtypes – A Systematic Review” by PubMed Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29593118/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 23, 2023

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