Also known as the large intestines, your colon is a long and hollow tube situated at the endmost part of your digestive tract. There are many different problems that can keep your colon from functioning properly. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, excessive gas, diarrhea and constipation are some warning signs that there’s something wrong with the colon. There are instances, too, when there are no indicators present, especially during the early stages of certain diseases.

At the first sign of the problem, it is important to let your doctor know about it. He or she will ask about certain questions concerning the encountered signs and symptoms, as well as your personal and family medical history. There are numerous diagnostic procedures that may be done too, such as the examination of the stool and visual inspection of the colon itself.

Other than having regular check ups especially if you are at risk of developing certain diseases of the colon, it is also very important for you to have a healthy diet and lifestyle. Ensure that your meals are well-balanced, consisting of vitamins and minerals, and most especially-fiber rich fruits and vegetables. Exercising regularly and stress management can help a lot. Cigarette smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol should be avoided.

Knowing some of the disorders that may strike the colon should also be a part of your stratagem to keep this section of your digestive tract in an optimal state. Here are the most common ones:

Colorectal Cancer

This happens when cancerous tumors develop in the lining of the colon. Common in men and women alike, experts say that the risk of having this disease rises after reaching 50 years of age. Other risk factors include family history of colorectal cancer, smoking, having a high-fat diet, and the presence of colorectal polyps, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Because colorectal cancer yields no sign or symptom initially, everyone over 50 years old should be screened.

Diverticulitis

When the diverticula (small pouches that grow on the outer portions of the colon) become inflamed, diverticulitis happens. Experts say that this is common in older people, and is usually brought about by a diet that’s low in fiber. Common treatments include antibiotics, painkillers and a modified diet. In severe cases, surgery may be warranted.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS for short, irritable bowel syndrome is a common problem with no known cause. It’s something that can produce issues such as abdominal pain, bloating and a change in bowel habits. Fortunately, experts say that IBS doesn’t leave the colon harmed. The symptoms can be controlled by opting for a diet that’s appropriate for IBS. Other things that may be done include stress management and the intake of probiotics.

Megacolon

This problem involves the abnormal enlargement of a section of the colon. Because the affected part loses its function, the movement of the bowel is impaired, leading to severe constipation. Treatment for megacolon involves dealing with the causative factor — overuse of laxatives, nerve damage, Parkinson’s disease and hypothyroidism are just some of them. In some cases, surgery may be warranted to remove the affected section of the colon.

Polyps

Extra tissues that form inside the body are referred to as polyps. They can develop in the colon and most of them are not dangerous. However, there are also some serious polyps in the colon that may end up as cancer or are already cancer in nature. To determine whether they are benign or malignant, a sample tissue may be examined.

Ulcerative Colitis

Also known as UC for short, ulcerative colitis is something that causes ulcerations or sores to form in the lining of the colon as well as the rectum — the endmost section of your large intestines that leads to the anus. UC may strike at any age, but it is common in people between 15 and 30 years old. Weight loss, anemia, tiredness, fatigue, skin sores, painful joints and rectal bleeding are some of the signs and symptoms of this condition.

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