Doctor Patel in the lab

Collagenous Colitis/Lymphocytic Colitis

Answers to common questions

Quick Facts 

  • Collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis are inflammatory conditions of the colon
  • Chronic watery diarrhea is the most common symptom 
  • Collagenous colitis is so named because of the thickened layer of connective tissue (collagen) in the colon’s lining   
  • Lymphocytic colitis gets its name because of the increased level of white blood cells (lymphocytes) found in the colon 
  • Referred to collectively as “microscopic colitis” because the diagnosis is confirmed by microscopic examination of the colon’s cells

Who Gets It?  

  • Collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis are more common in older adults, ages 60-80. 
  • The use of certain medications has been linked to a higher risk of collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis in some people, but this association is unproven. The suspected medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Aspirin® and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, others). Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications that you’re taking, especially any you began taking in the months before the onset of your diarrhea.   

What Are The Symptoms?

Signs and symptoms may include:    

  • Watery diarrhea (most common)    
  • Abdominal pain or cramps     
  • Abdominal bloating     
  • Modest weight loss     
  • Nausea       
  • Fecal incontinence 
  • Dehydration

How Is It Detected/Diagnosed?  

Endoscopic examination (colonoscopy) with biopsies is necessary for a definitive tissue diagnosis

How is it treated? 

Treatment involves a phased approach beginning with lifestyle changes and progressing to medications and (rarely) surgery if necessary.


Other Useful Resources 

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)


1355 River Bend Drive
Dallas, Texas 75247


This publication is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice, nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon your medical history and current condition.