Lymphocytic colitis

A common type of bowel inflammation that affects the colon that was first discovered by medical doctors in Sweden in 1976 is called lymphocytic colitis. This is a condition where you experience chronic, watery diarrhea. This is a non bloody diarrhea. This condition is diagnosed in about 2 out of 100,000 older people in industrialized countries. There are abdominal pain or cramps and nausea associated with Lymphcytic colitis. This disease has to be accurately diagnosed by a medical doctor after a biopsy is done. A colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy may not reveal the inflammation because it is so microscopic. The biopsy involves removing a piece of the tissue in the lining of the intestines. The swelling and inflammation of the colon causes excessive diarrhea. Men and women both can suffer from this condition as it is not gender specific. However, more women than men are diagnosed with lymphocytic colitis. This disease is more commonly found in people who are between the ages of 60 and 80 as well. However there are some reported cases in people who are less than 45 years old. In rare instances a child can develop Lymphocytic colitis.

The cause of this condition is really unknown but is thought to be hereditary. Lymphocytic colitis is not contagious. Some in the medical field assume that it is caused by certain bacteria or viruses however. Another theory as to the cause is that the body’s immune system begins to destroy the healthy cells in the colon, however the answer as to why this would happen is not known. Certain lifestyle changes are helpful in reducing the symptoms. The reduction of fats and caffeine in the diet is most helpful. Also, those who are lactose intolerant should avoid dairy products. Over the counter pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen should be avoided. You should not drink alcohol or eat spicy food when you have this condition either.

Some medical doctors will prescribe anti-inflammatory mediations and or steroids to help reduce the inflammation. Mesalamine and sulfasalazine are the most common anti-inflammatories used. Budesonide and prednisone are the most common steroids used. However steroids should be taken with caution since they may also have negative side effects such as bone loss or increased blood pressure. Patients may also be given an immunosuppressant to reduce inflammation. Very extreme cases of lymphocytic colitis that can not be relieved by medications and lifestyle changes may necessitate the removal of the colon. Removal of the colon can be avoided if the lymphocytic colitis is treated early enough. This condition does not evolve into colon cancer, but it is still imperative to seek early treatment. Patients who have a mild case can be treated with anti-diarrhea preparations. Imodium or Lomotil can be successful in relieving mild to moderate cases of diarrhea.

When a person suffers from lymphocytic colitis they can have frequent bouts of watery diarrhea that can last for up to a month if they do not seek treatment. As a result they can also suffer from dehydration because of all of the fluids that are being expelled from the body. This brings about symptoms of fatigue. The person may also experience weight loss due to this condition.

It is important to seek medical attention and an accurate diagnosis before any type of treatment is begun. Most people who seek medical treatment early are able to make lifestyle changes to reduce their symptoms in about two to three weeks. Patients have reported relief from diarrhea after adding probiotic supplements to their daily diet. However, there are no scientific studies to substantiate these claims yet. You can buy yogurt that contain acidophilus which is a probiotic in grocery stores and health food stores.

Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2010 and filed under Digestive Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

12 Responses for “Lymphocytic colitis”

  1. robin bosley says:

    i am almost 46 yrs old an have been suffering from lymphocytic colitis. so far no treatments has worked long term the longest anything has worked for 2 months. i am a single mom an main income an i cant keep missing work.i have not had a solid stool in over 2 yrs except for the 2 months when the entocort worked. my stomach pain an cramps keep getting worse an my stomach will be hard an bloated an i feel like i am going to vomit all the time.i drive 45 mins to work an i average on the way home out of 5 days, accidents 2 to 3 times a week just on the way home. i am on my 2nd gasto an i cant keep on like this. my other concern is if this destroys good cells what is this doing to my immune system. please, please help, thank you robin bosley

    • trina says:

      I have crohn’s…my doctor put me on Colestid a colesterol pill. The pill is know to constipate patience,so of course this is what my body needs. I used to go at least 12 time a day to the restroom,now I go twice. This pill is a blessing to people with colon issues

  2. Amy Patrick says:

    Have you tried Pamine Forte? It comes in a generic form. I have taken that for IBS-D, and it helps with the cramping and diarrhea, though it causes dry mouth (which is, to me, better than having constant diarrhea). I’m wondering if I might actually have lymphocytic colitis instead of IBS, which is how I happened to run across this site, but I don’t know if I’ll ever find out. I’m not nauseated, but I sometimes have a “full” feeling in my upper abdomen, and I feel inflamed along my entire digestive tract at times, which the Pamine Forte does not help–but it does help with the other symptoms. Hope you find some relief!

  3. 46Man says:

    I’m a 46 year old man and suffered from symptoms for decades (certainly didn’t occur at 80). I must have had 10 colonoscopies from the time I was 19. a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with lymphocytic colitis and it was apparently very difficult to isolate. I’ve had blood for so long that I’d become accustomed to it, but incidents of cramping and (ahem) diarrhea have lessened considerably as I’ve gotten older. It’s almost as if I had IBS that evolved into L-Colitis. Anyway, I was prescribed Entocort and took it only on an “as needed” basis. For some reason, my symptoms lessened once I was officially diagnosed. I still eat some spicy foods, but attribute a lot of my improvement on having quit drinking alchohol–which I believe really did hurt me when I’d imbibe. It could be unique to me, but it really helped.

    What I wanted to address most is my recent diagnosis of having Primary Immunodeficiency Disease. I discoved that I had a diminished (below acceptable floor) amount of IgG, subclasses 1 and 3. This came out of nowhere, as far as I can tell, and I found out after having a serious hospitalization for pneumonia that then became sepsis. I was intubated for 10 days, didn’t respond to myriad anti-biotics and basically almost died. I felt rundown, but nothing outlandish. I attributed to the constant colds/flu that my son picks up at daycare. Anyway, I spiked a 103.5 temp and went to Urgent Care where coincidentally I knew the Dr. who owned the business. Ordinarily he would probably have sent me home with a Z-pack and seen how I did. But he had a suspicion based on how bad/different I looked (I’m usually like an 8 ;) and called an ambulance to take me to a local ER. Shortly thereafter, I went into septic shock. He saved my life.

    I have no idea why this happened to me except that I must have developed this immune deficiency somewhat recently…..as I haven’t been a chronically sick person, or one prone to infection. They say it’s likely hereditary but nobody in my family, anywhere, has had chronic illness, etc. I’ve taken VERY little in the way of steroids and/or endocort. Could lymphocytic colitis CAUSE immuno deficiency? Just a thought that has recently run through my head based on what I’ve read about the nature of the disorders.

    -Greg, curious in Phx

  4. Ruth k says:

    My story is like Robin’s. I too am a single parent on the run without time to be sick, but I am 40 and I have had LC for almost 3 years now. I did have IBS (or so the doctor said) before that. However, when I went off bc pills the IBS went away. I thought I was home free when suddenly I started with diarrhea that will not go away. I did have malignant colon tumors which were removed during the colonoscopy, but we have not found any reason why my body will not respond to LC treatment for more then a couple of weeks. I feel like I am trying to hit a moving target just to have “good” days. Fortunately, I do not have the cramping but I am constantly bloated and the gas is horrifying. I have tried GI specialists, an internal medicine MD, natural medicines, and nutritionists… and I am still in the same place. I am thinking of trying an allergist. Any thoughts? Any research going on in to LC?

  5. 66 Woman says:

    Have you been tested for celiac Disease? Same symptoms caused by eating wheat, rye, barley, and oats and their by products.

  6. bonnie n. says:

    Has anyone experienced dental problems as a result of having lymphocytic colitis? I read somewhere that the dehydration caused by the acute diarrhea causes dry mouth leading to deterioration of dental work…this has happened to me…it started at the same time as my first bout with l.c…is it just a coincidence?

    • Kat says:

      Bonnie, I noticed my teeth are getting cavities left and right regardless how well I’ve taken care of my mouth since I can remember. All that obsessing and Im left with cavity after root canal after another. I’ve read some articles on this LC (Recently diagnosed with) and it mentions increase in dental problems with sufferers. Not sure if this is secondary to steroid usage or actual side effect of LC.

      I’m 41 & don’t fall under the “changing diet” routine either. I was ordered to change my diet 8 months ago and thus far has done nil to help. Main reason Celiac’s was dismissed on my part months ago when my girlfriend mentioned it. It doesn’t seem to be phased by what I eat.. more so triggered by stress and a whim. Dr. has put me on entocort, but the first day I took it, the diarrhea went away but in came excruciating abdominal cramps and gas that would make the middle east jealous. I’m clueless how long this is going to last, how much weight Im going to lose before something works without causing such severe side effects.. anyone taken anything ‘magical’ that seems to have less severe side effects than the steroids? Please share.

      • Karen says:

        My first bout with LC lasted 9 months and stopped on it’s own after a colonoscopy. I went two years with text-book bm’s and no symptoms until about three months ago when our cat got suddenly ill and we had to have him put down. That night the diarrhea started again and hasn’t stopped yet. I had hoped the colonoscopy pre-test cleansing had something to do with stopping it the first time but I went through that and another colonoscopy this past week and no luck. My Dr has mentioned Celiac too but like you it doesn’t matter what I eat or if I eat. I had a normal diet for the two years the symptoms were absent. I have diarrhea 15 to 20 times a day – always watery with no pain. Sometimes there is cramp-like pressure after the bm, but never painful cramps. I’ve noticed the dental problems too, I attributed to dehydration and dry mouth, but I haven’t lost any weight. I can’t understand why because nothing stays in my system long enough to be absorbed. I’ve tried the over-the-counter meds for diarrhea, metamucil and asecol with no help from anything. I have my follow-up appointment in a week and would appreciate any suggestions I might share at that time.

  7. Pam says:

    I was just diagnosed with LC. I am at least glad to have a diagnosis after several years of episodes of severe diarrhea. I went through the whole regimen of tests (including the test for Celiac). Of course my gastro wants to try the OTC anti-diarrheal meds first. We will see how that works. I’m not counting on it as I have tried before to no avail. He said if that didn’t work, he would put me on Entocort. My symptoms are some better since the colonoscopy, but I am just waiting for them to flare back up as I can’t remember a time that I had normal bowel movements for long. I am anxious, Karen, to hear what your doc has to say.

  8. Vicky says:

    I was just diagnosed with LC after a biopsy was taken when I had a colonoscopy. I have had severe diarrhea for 8 months. I am hypothyroid and have been taking levoxyl for 17 years with no problems. Suddenly in December last year my doctor changed my med. to Synthroid, that’s when the diarrhea started. I was researching just last week and found out the filler in Synthroid is “LACTOSE”! I am LACTOSE INTOLERANT, so my medication is what started the diarrhea which inflamed my colon. If anyone is lactose intolerant, be aware of the fillers and ingredients in any maintentance medication you are taking. This was my experience with LC and I hope correcting my medication will STOP IT!

  9. Lisa says:

    I was recently diagnosed with L-Colitis after having diarrhea on and off (mostly on) for the last year. 2 colonoscopys later, and 2 hospitilizations later I found the answer. Now it’s a question of treating the symptoms, and my doctor is referring me to a GI specialist. The meds he’s prescribed work for 2 days, and then stop working which is showing me malabsorbtion. I hope to find support here, as well as more information as to how to make this STOP as well. The support is the most important thing though. It’s great that I found this site and don’t feel so alone. I am running to the bathroom a minimum of 10 times a day, and having accidents in the middle of the night. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

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