Collagenous colitis is a condition that affects the intestines. Chronic watery diarrhea is one of its primary symptoms. The exact cause of the condition is unknown. Although the problem sometimes goes away on its own, most people with the condition have recurring symptoms. Dietary and lifestyle changes aimed at improving diarrhea are usually the first line of treatment.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a general name for diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines. Collagenous colitis is a type of bowel inflammation that affects the colon (large intestine). Collagenous colitis is not related to Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, which are more severe forms of inflammatory bowel disease. Also, collagenous colitis does not increase the risk of colon cancer.
Collagenous colitis and another type of colitis, called lymphocytic colitis, are referred to as microscopic colitis because colonoscopy usually shows no signs of inflammation on the surface of the colon. Instead, tissue samples from the colon must be examined under a microscope to make the diagnosis.
No precise cause of this disorder has been found. Possible causes of damage to colon's lining include:
- Bacteria and their toxins
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Some researchers have suggested that collagenous colitis results from an autoimmune response, meaning that the body's immune system is destroying cells for no apparent reason.
Collagenous colitis symptoms can include:
- Chronic watery diarrhea that isn't bloody -- the diarrhea may be continuous or come in episodes
- Abdominal pain or cramps may also be present.