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Colon Diseases

Colon diseases can be downright frightening. With some diseases being potentially fatal, such as colon cancer, it is important for you to recognize the various symptoms. In that way, you will be more likely to seek treatment in a timely manner. Early treatment is crucial because most of these diseases can be cured completely if caught in the early stages. The following is a brief overview of some of the most common diseases of the colon and their treatment options.

Colon Polyps

Perhaps the most common of all colon diseases are colon polyps. In fact, many people have colon polyps and do not even realize it. In most cases, colon polyps are benign and do not cause any real issues. On the other hand, colon polyps can be an indicator of colon cancer.

Unlike many other diseases, there are no symptoms associated with colon polyps. Therefore, most people don’t realize they have colon polyps until they receive a routine checkup. The chances of developing colon polyps increases dramatically after the age of 50. Therefore, it is a good idea to start having regular checkups after this age. It is especially important to begin getting checkups if you have a family history of colon polyps or if a family member has suffered from colon cancer.

All colon polyps should be removed, even if they are not believed to be cancerous. In fact, removing and testing them is the only way to be absolutely sure. In most cases, colon polyps are cut away during a colonoscopy.  If they are particularly large, however, a more invasive surgery may be necessary. This would entail cutting through your abdomen in order to remove the polyps.

If the colon polyps are cancerous, simply removing them with a colonoscopy may be enough. Otherwise, other treatment options such as radiation treatment or chemotherapy may be necessary, but this would be a matter for discussion with a highly qualified physician.

Diverticulosis

As with some other colon diseases, Diverticulosis doesn’t necessarily cause health problems or even present symptoms. Therefore, it is not a problem for about 80% of those affected by the condition. For the other 20%, however, Diverticulosis can cause pain, bleeding, and inflammation. This is because the condition weakens the muscles of the colon, which in turn prevents the mucosa lining from receiving blood through the arterioles.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is a fairly common colon problem, with anywhere from 500,000 to two million people in the United States being affected. A person suffering from Crohn’s Disease has a narrow lumen, which causes the digestive tract to become easily inflamed.  Unlike many other colon diseases, Crohn’s Disease generally affects only the last portion of the small intestine but can affect any portion of the digestive tract. It is necessary to make positive dietary changes in order to treat Crohn’s Disease, though medication and surgery can provide some help.

Crohn’s Disease is usually diagnosed only after other colon diseases have been ruled out. Other diseases with similar symptoms include Irritable Bowel Syndrome and ulcerative colitis. These symptoms include bloating, cramping, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, abdominal pain, anal pain, skin lesions, rectal abscess, fissures, and joint pain. Another symptom, though less common, is excessive bleeding. If left unchecked, this can lead to anemia.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is also referred to as a spastic colon. This is also one of the most common colon diseases in the United States. If you suffer from IBS, you might go through periods of constipation followed by periods of diarrhea. Or, you might suffer continually from just one of these two ailments. Other symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, and nausea.

The exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is unknown, though most researchers believe it is caused by overly sensitive nerves in the colon. For most people, however, making dietary changes can significantly reduce or even eliminate the symptoms.

Ulcerative Colitis

As with diseases like Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis affects approximately 500,000 to two million people in the United States. On the other hand, it affects mostly individuals under the age of 30. It is characterized by tiny ulcers on the lining of the colon and rectum that pus and bleed. Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis include diarrhea, bloating, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, constipation, fatigue, fever, and weight loss.

Diverticular Disease

Diverticular disease is one of the most common colon diseases affecting individuals between the ages of 60 and 80 in the United States. In fact, approximately 50% of people within this age bracket suffer from the disease, which is characterized by pockets in the colon walls becoming inflamed. As a result, individuals with Diverticular disease experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps, and rectal bleeding. Most experts believe the disease, which places too much pressure on the colon, is caused by a lack of fiber in the diet.

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