Microscopic colitis is a disease that causes an inflammation of the colon, resulting in chronic diarrhea and occasional abdominal pain. It was given the name "microscopic colitis" because the inflammation can only be viewed through a microscope.
What causes microscopic colitis?
Research shows that microscopic colitis is a result of the immune system attacking bacteria living in the colon. Scientists are still unsure, however, about what instigates the attack to these bacteria. It is suggested that consumption of certain antibiotics or certain types of foods may trigger the attack. It is likewise believed that the body's immune system attacks non-foreign elements in the intestine after erroneously identifying them as foreign elements. Why this anomaly happens is uncertain.
Tests have also suggested that a certain gene present in the body may be the cause of the attack, but due to the lack of consistency in the results, there is no conclusion that can be drawn from the test.
Studies have also suggested that estrogen could be the cause of microscopic colitis. Research has yielded convincing findings that there are more women affected by this disease than men, and that these women are usually affected much later their in life when the supply of estrogen in the body is much higher.
Although it is not the actual cause of microscopic colitis, the body's reaction to glutinous food products could be the trigger for the inflammation of the colon. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats.
Treatment and prevention
The first step of treatment for microscopic colitis is the modification of the diet. The patient is usually asked to stick to gluten-free foods.
A new medical process is being developed to rid the body of immunogenic strains of bacteria that cause microscopic colitis. The process involves replacing these bacteria with good bacteria called lactobacilli.