Lymphocytic Colitis

Lymphocytic Colitis: Causes, Picture, Symptoms, and Treatment

Inflammation in the large intestine is a health problem. The issue known as lymphocytic colitis can make your life hell. It accompanies with severe belly pain and watery diarrhea. So, you may experience long-term adverse effects. It comes under the category of microscopic colitis. The term colitis itself refers to inflammation of the colon region. As the name suggests, it is only visible under the microscope. So, the doctor’s need to check the colon’s lining to see the problem.

The visual inspection of the colon lining during the flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy can reveal the issue. The lymphocytic colitis is the condition caused due to the accumulation of lymphocytes. So, the problem is only visible during the doctor’s diagnosis. It is not possible to detect the issue without the help of your doctor. Therefore, to get comprehensive details about the colon problem, you need to seek a medical appointment.

Function Of Large Intestine

Function Of Large Intestine

The large intestine is a significant part of the digestive tract. It is also known as the gastrointestinal tract (GI). The GI consists of the large intestine, colon as well as the rectum. So, the region starting from the mouth to the rectal opening covers the GI tract. Your small intestine breaks the food particles and sends it to the large intestine. The main function of the large intestine is to reabsorb the water and electrolytes. The waste is then transferred by the colon to the rectum. Finally, the rectum stores the waste (feces), which gets expelled from the body.

What Is Lymphocytic Colitis?

It is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) caused by the accumulation of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the type of white blood cells. It is found within the lining of your colon. The lymphocytic colitis is a rare disorder. You can experience abdominal pain as well as watery diarrhea. With the disease, you can experience inflammation in the large intestine. The condition is more prevalent in women compared to men. But, the risk is high in the elderly patient between the ages of 60 to 80. According to the researches, the disease is prevalent among people suffering from celiac disease.

What Is Lymphocytic Colitis

When you suffer from lymphocytic colitis, you can experience swelling as well as inflammation. It is due to the fact that your immune system sends the inflammatory cells to your large intestine. Your immune cells known as the lymphocytes accumulate in your body. So, the lymphocytes gather in the lower region of the small intestine. It can result in the inflammation. The large intestine cannot absorb the water normally with the inflammation. The result is severe pain and discomfort that can affect your normal life.

Causes Of Lymphocytic Colitis

Everyone who suffers from a disease likes to know the exact cause of the problem. They wonder what they did wrong to catch the disease. Unlike other health problems, the exact cause that leads to lymphocytic colitis is not known. But, several factors affect the body leading to the inflammation of the large intestine. Therefore, the main causes of the diseases are:

Autoimmune Diseases

Immunity is referred to as your body’s defense mechanism to protect it against external threats like infection, inflammation, etc. When a virus or bacteria attacks the cells in the body, the immune system fights it and prevents from affecting the body. The autoimmune conditions cause confusion in your immune system. So, it attacks the healthy cells in your body. It can lead to inflammation. Such autoimmune problems can attack the large intestine triggering lymphocytic colitis.

Unfamiliar Things In Digestive Tract

According to some researchers, the unfamiliar things in the digestive tract can cause inflammation resulting in lymphocytic colitis. The external things like pollen, bacteria, or the food relatively foreign to your body can cause lymphocytic colitis.

Side Effects Of Medications

The medication you take for the ailment of your body can cause side-effects in your body. One adverse effect is the inflammation of the bowel region. So, the medications you take for the following conditions can result in lymphocytic colitis:

  • Inflammatory Pain Medications (except steroids)
  • High Cholesterol
  • Acid Reflux
  • Depression (antidepressants)
  • Diabetes

Therefore, it is better to talk to your doctor to know about the side effects of the medications before using it.


Smoking Smoking is a bad habit leading several issues like cancer, heart problems, etc. it can affect several organs in your body adversely. Some researchers have found the connection between smoking and the lymphocytic colitis. It is found that most people get the disease after quitting the smoking habit.

Certain habits like excess caffeine intake (like drinking coffee) can cause a problem. Though the studies have found the connection, it is not an established fact. The findings are not documented. It requires more studies to establish as a fact. Therefore, you can only guess the exact reason for the problem. If you suspect the issue, then see a doctor immediately. How do you know it? Read ahead to find out more.

Lymphocytic Colitis Signs/Symptoms

When you see certain changes in your body, you need to pay closer attention. The abnormal symptoms are associated with underlying health problems. Lymphocytic colitis can trigger certain issues in your body. Therefore, you need to watch out for the following symptoms:


The most common sign of lymphocytic colitis is the frequent episodes of loose stools or watery diarrhea. The stools may contain no trace of blood. Sometimes it occurs several times a day. So, it can make you uncomfortable. The frequent episodes of diarrhea can cause adverse effects on your health. It also causes inference in your daily functions. Diarrhea can clear on its own and then return with vengeance.


The chronic episodes of diarrhea can cause an imbalance in your body. You lose water, salts, and other minerals due to the frequent episodes of diarrhea. Therefore, it leads to dehydration. The loss of fluids can make you feel uncomfortable.


The loss of fluids due to dehydration can result in weakness in your body. The essential ions and nutrients get lost from the body. So, it can lead to exhaustion and loss of energy to carry on with your regular functions.

Weight Loss

Losing excessive weight is also a sign of lymphocytic colitis. It is due to your body’s inability to retain the essential nutrients.

Abdominal Pain

You can also suffer from severe abdominal pain. The pain can hold you back from completing your daily chores.


The inflammation in the large intestine can cause nausea or vomiting feeling. So, you feel sick and unhappy.

Inability To Control Bowel Movement

The most embarrassing symptom of the disease is the inability to control your bowel movement. Therefore, you feel shy to go outside or even perform professional duties.

Joint Pain

It is the sign that indicates you need medical attention. Your joints may pain while moving, which can restrict your mobility.

It is essential that you take the signs and symptoms associated with lymphocytic colitis seriously. With medical help at the right time, you can control and manage the problem. Ignoring it can only lead to severe complications.

Diagnosing Lymphocytic Colitis

When you observe one or more of the symptoms described above, you need to contact your doctor. Depending on your symptoms, your physician may refer you to a specialist. The specialist doctor referred to as gastroenterologist focuses on the problems and issues of the digestive tract. The doctor performs the following diagnostic test to determine the issue:

Physical Examination

The doctor asks your medical history. It is to rule out the possibility of any other health problems. It also helps in revealing if the diarrhea is caused due to the side effects of medications. The elaborate physical examination can override any other causes that result in the loose stools.

Blood Tests

The blood tests can shed light on the presence of infection in your body. It also reveals if you have anemia or not. Therefore, your doctor sends the blood sample to the lab.

Check For Celiac Disease

The celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder with serious consequences. The disease causes damage to the small intestine due to the ingestion of gluten. It is a genetic disorder that runs in the family. As it has symptoms similar to lymphocytic colitis, it is important to rule out the disease before developing a treatment plan. So, your doctor suggests the tTG-IgA Test for proper diagnosis.

Stool Analysis

The laboratory checks your stool sample to detect the presence of an infection or inflammation leading to the issue.

Imaging Tests

Imaging Tests

The imaging tests can show your doctor the live image of your large intestine. It is the most sophisticated diagnostic test that shows your doctor the inside area of the large intestine and its problems. So, your doctor can make use of the following tests for an actual detection:

It is the most definitive diagnostic test that can detect the presence of lymphocytic colitis without any doubts. The test involves inserting a camera of small size into your rectum. The camera travels towards the intestinal tract to check for issues. It also takes a portion of your intestine for biopsy. The intestinal tissue is checked in the lab to confirm the disease.

Treatment Options For Lymphocytic Colitis

Getting treatment for lymphocytic colitis is important for ensuring a good quality of life. Some people are lucky as the symptoms disappear without getting any treatment. But, the majority of the patients suffering from lymphocytic colitis need treatment to overcome the issue. The treatment option encompasses two main factors. Easing the symptoms using medications and preventing worsening of the issue with a diet.


With good treatment, you can get back your health without recurring symptoms. Understand that the condition is not completely curable. The doctors can only ease the discomfort of the disease. So, you can stay in remission for as long as possible. Your doctor decides the treatment plan based on your symptoms.

Prevent Diarrhea

The first treatment option your doctor may suggest is to stop chronic diarrhea. Preventing the frequent episodes of diarrhea is necessary to ensure your body gets all the nutrients. The short treatment cycle of antidiarrheal medication can stop the loose stools.


The inflammation in the large intestine can result in pain and swelling. So, your doctor may give you anti-inflammatory medications like mesalamine to over the issue.

Stop Bile Acids

To prevent the bile acids by affecting your health, you need medications like cholestyramine. It can reduce the symptoms you suffer considerably.

While taking the medication, you have to see if the symptoms reduce or not. You need to consult your healthcare provider or stop treatment with the medicine if the condition worsens. Most of the patients suffering from lymphocytic colitis respond well to the medications. Sometimes, the symptoms can come back. In such cases, the solution is taking the medication on a long-term basis.

Diet To Overcome Lymphocytic Colitis

Changing the diet is beneficial for your health if you suffer from lymphocytic colitis. People who have a family history of the disease are vulnerable to getting it. So, following a doctor recommended lymphocytic diet can prevent the disease from affecting you. The diet focusses on avoiding the foods that can worsen the condition. The foods that you need to avoid are:

  • Dairy products
  • Processed food
  • High-fat food
  • Spicy or acidic items
  • High-fiber foods (nuts, legumes, beans)
  • Alcohol

So, the main aim of the diet is to avoid undue stress to your digestive tract. You also need to avoid foods that can irritate or cause dehydration. Now you may wonder what you can consume. The diet you need to include must have a soft effect on your stomach. Therefore, you need to take foods that can digest easily. Good hydration is also necessary to prevent issues. It can prevent the dehydration caused by the diarrheal episodes. Therefore, talk with your doctor to find the right list of food to include to avoid the complication from lymphocytic colitis.

Complications Of Lymphocytic Colitis

It is a rare disorder, but a serious one. The inflammation in the intestine needs medical attention to overcome the adverse symptoms. The form of irritable bowel syndrome caused due to immune cell build up can cause severe pain. It attacks the healthy intestinal tissues resulting in swelling and inflammation. Therefore, you need to get help from your doctor. Failure to get treatment can result in complications like:

  • Dehydration in the body leading to nausea, weakness, and dizziness.
  • Malnutrition due to the failure to absorb the essential vitamins and minerals in your body.
  • Malabsorption of the nutrients as a result of chronic diarrhea.

Unlike other irritable bowel diseases, the lymphocytic colitis does not result in colon cancer. But, it is a severe condition leading to several health issues and problems in your life. Therefore, it can affect the quality of your life in a negative manner. It is significant to get good treatment as soon as possible. Subsequently, it will avoid the complications from your life.


Lymphocytic colitis is not a life-threatening condition, unlike other irritable bowel diseases. Nothing can cure the problem completely. But, it has a good prognosis. So, with the right medication and diet, you can go into remission. A good treatment plan also avoids the disease from flaring up again. If you are lucky enough, you can overcome the problem without any medical attention. But, on a safer side, contact your doctor when you see the symptoms. It can help you avoid unnecessary discomfort and pain.

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  1. I was diagnosed with lymphocytic colitis, but I don’t have diarrhea. Instead, I have severe constipation. I had a colonoscopy and that’s how they diagnosed the type of colitis. Should I go for a second opinion?

  2. Mavis p west

    I’ve been diagnosed with this ,yet to see the bowel specialist ,anyone any advice on the subject thanks in anticipation

  3. I was diagnosed 11 years ago after a colonoscopy. Just went for my second colonoscopy and again confirmed the diagnosis. Eleven years ago they said there was nothing that helped with it. This time I was told that a low dose steroid would help my symptoms. Unfortulately that has not been the case. The diahrrea has continued and I decided to stop the steroids.

  4. My husband was just diagnosed and being treated with budesonide and imodium . NO to steroids. We’ll see how it goes.

  5. Nancy Voorheis

    I was also diagnosed with lymphocytic colitis 6 years ago after I had surgery for a hernia repair, is when the episodes of diarrhea started. I have been on low dose Naltrexone 3 mg. for the past 4 years. I had to drastically change my diet (no sugar, low starch veggies, no dairy, no coffee). The Naltrexone is a compounded drug that seems to help, as long as I stay away from certain foods and keep my emotional health in check.

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