Microscopic colitis refers to an inflammatory disease of the colon that is the large intestine. It is called microscopic colitis because the colon tissue appears to be normal in a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, however, the tissue is to be observed under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis of the disease. The inflammation is not visible to the naked eye. A watery diarrhea, which is quite persistent in nature, is the commonest first sign of microscopic colitis.
How To Prevent Microscopic Colitis?
The exact cause of microscopic colitis is not known. Hence, it is not possible to prevent microscopic colitis. It is only possible to manage the disease and provide some relief in case of symptoms like diarrhea etc. also, with the use of effective and timely treatment, the recurrence of microscopic colitis can be prevented.
There are two types of microscopic colitis
- Collagenous colitis and
- Lymphocytic colitis.
In lymphocytic colitis, the lymphocytes get collected in the lining of the colon. In collagenous colitis, a protein called collagen forms a thick layer on the lining of the colon.
Microscopic colitis most of the times gets better on its own. However, for severe and persisting symptoms, medical intervention may be needed. There is no cure for microscopic colitis. The symptoms can, however, be managed.
- The first recommendation of the doctor is usually to make changes to the diet.
- The diet should be low in fiber and low in fats, as a high fiber diet may be difficult to digest for the already compromised digestive system.
- Dairy products should be stopped. Some people may get affected by gluten as well. Hence it is advisable to stop including gluten in the diet also.
- Caffeinated foods and drinks like coffee should be avoided.
- Foods high on sugar content must be avoided.
- Aerated and carbonated drinks can create gases and disturb the digestive system. Also, they are stimulating. Hence, they should be totally avoided.
Alcohol causes dehydration. Diarrhea already creates a situation of dehydration in the body. To avoid further loss of fluids, it is advisable to discontinue consumption of alcohol, even in small quantities.
- Lots of fluids should be consumed, in order to restore the fluid loss. Electrolyte drinks can be taken in order to restore the loss of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
- Easy to digest and soft foods must be chosen for consumption.
- Also, raw and uncooked foods must be avoided, as they are heavier to digest. Completely cooked foods are a preference.
- Small, frequent meals are advised, instead of one large, full meal. This may help to relieve diarrhea.
- Gut-irritating foods like oily, spicy and hot foods should be avoided, as these may make the symptoms worse.
- Some medications may have to be advocated in case the above dietary changes do not give the desired results.
- Anti-diarrheal medications may be prescribed, in order to ease the diarrhea. Example is loperamide.
Bile acids are also known to irritate the colon and cause inflammation, if they are not properly absorbed. In such cases, medicines that block bile salts, like cholestyramine, may be advocated.
- Anti- inflammatory medicines may be given to reduce the inflammation.
- Steroids may also be given, in case the regular anti-inflammatory medicines do not work.
- Sometimes, there might be a need to give immune suppressants as well, to help reduce the inflammation.
- Surgery is needed in the rarest of rare cases, if all of the above ways and means fail to produce the desired results, and the symptoms are getting worse.
Microscopic colitis has no known cure presently, and it cannot be prevented. However, with proper medications and timely intervention, the disease can be managed. Also, the use of prompt and efficient treatment will ensure that the microscopic colitis does not recur again.
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