Colitis is of many types. Collagenous colitis is more common in women than men. It is an inflammatory colonic disease and usually, people over the age of 50 suffer from it. Read on, to know more about causes, symptoms and treatment of this disease.
Colitis indicates inflammation of the inner lining of the colon or large intestine. There are many different types of colitis, among which collagenous colitis results in thickened layer of connective tissue (collagen) in the colon’s lining which affects the health of the colon. This type of colitis is sometimes referred to as microscopic colitis; because microscopic examination of a sample of tissue helps confirm the diagnosis. It is observed that signs and symptoms of colitis are present for months before a proper diagnosis is made.
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Weight loss
- Abdominal bloating (distention)
- Fecal incontinence
- Persistent watery diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea, the most common symptom is the main concern. Diarrhea is watery and non bloody. It starts all of a sudden. The diarrhea may be noticed constantly or in some cases, it can be intermittent. The symptoms may improve in between and then they may again worsen. Patients may have from four to nine watery bowel movements a day. Some patients may have up to 20 daily bowel movements. This results in extreme fatigue.
Some bacteria and the toxins produced by them or a virus may trigger the inflammation of the colon. Sometimes, it can be an autoimmune problem, meaning that the body’s immune system becomes overactive, and attacks and damages healthy cells, considering them as foreign invaders. The causes of inflamed colon lining are:
- Diabetes mellitus, a condition caused by failure of the pancreas to produce adequate amounts of insulin wherein the body is not able to control blood sugar levels.
- Celiac disease, a digestive system disorder, caused by the ingestion of the protein gluten.
- Thyroid problems affecting the functions of the other body systems.
- Rheumatoid arthritis which is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder affecting the joints.
- Pernicious anemia, a condition that results in low red blood cell counts.
- Scleroderma, a disease of the skin and connective tissue which is also a chronic autoimmune disease.
- Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune system dysfunction causing inflammation of the connective tissue.
- Certain genetic components
- Use of certain medications like non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) can lead to inflammation of colon. Many other medications are associated with an increased risk of inflammatory colonic disease.
Colonoscopy or a flexible sigmoidoscopy can be performed by the doctor before the diagnosis of the disease. There’s no evidence that collagenous colitis increases the risk of colon cancer or death. Ulcerative colitis increases the risk of colon cancer. Sometimes, a biopsy is performed to diagnose the condition. The condition usually requires no treatment. A milder case can get cured on its own, within a week, without any treatment. In case of serious symptoms, lifestyle changes are expected from the patients.
- Lifestyle Changes: To improve the digestive health, the patient should follow a low fat diet. Colitis diet should exclude caffeine (usually found in tea, coffee, soft drinks), lactose (found in dairy products), spicy foods, raw fruits and vegetables, alcohol, tobacco, etc.
- Medications: Over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen should be avoided as they may worsen the diarrhea. A mild or moderate diarrhea can be brought under control with the help of proper medicines and drugs.
- Surgery: If the medications are not effective, then the inflamed portion of the colon can be removed surgically. Surgery is considered as the last treatment option. It is rarely required
Collagenous colitis may affect the quality of life of the patient. But simple dietary alterations and lifestyle changes can help resolve the symptoms completely. A controlled diet promotes fast recovery.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.