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Spastic Colon

Spastic colon is a condition also referred to as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. The condition is characterized by a number of symptoms, including diarrhea or constipation which may even be experienced on an alternating basis. Other symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, and excessive gas. Often, these symptoms disappear temporarily after having a bowel movement.

Sometimes, a person with a colon issues will also experience mucus in his or her bowel movements. Or, even after having a bowel movement, he or she will still feel the need to use the restroom as if not completely empty. Those with an extreme condition may also experience nausea, fainting, and dizziness.

Causes

The exact cause is not understood, though it was once believed stress was a factor. Much research, however, indicates a person with a spastic colon may have overly sensitive nerves in the colon. As a result, the normal process of moving food through the person’s colon becomes painful and causes spasms and irregular bowel movements.

Research has also shown that women are twice as likely as men to suffer. In addition, nearly 10 to 20 percent of people in the United States have related symptoms, though only half of these individuals seek treatment for the problem.

Although stress is no longer considered to be a cause, it is believed stress increases the symptoms associated with the problem – particularly the pain.

Diagnosis

Before anyone can be treated, they need to be properly diagnosed. This can sometimes be a difficult process because the symptoms are similar to many other diseases, several of which are more serious. In addition, there is no true test for whether or not someone has a spastic colon. Rather, the doctor needs to rule out other conditions and make the diagnosis based on your symptoms and self-reports.

There are several tests however the doctor may order throughout the process of diagnosis. These include blood tests and examination of stool samples to check for infection. The doctor may order a sigmoidoscopy, which involves inserting a flexible tube in the rectum in order to inspect the colon, or a Barium X-ray, which involves swallowing a chalky solution in order to highlight abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract. The doctor may also recommend dietary changes for a period of time to determine if the problem is due to an alternate condition such as a case of lactose intolerance.

Treatment

After the diagnosis has been determined you can begin working toward treating the problem and alleviating its symptoms. The method of treatment can vary depending upon the severity of the problem. For some, the symptoms are only mild or they may come and go. For others, the symptoms are far more severe and can have an adverse affect on the person’s sleep patterns, work, and even day-to-day life. In addition, the symptoms can change over a period of time.

For the most part, a spastic colon cannot be cured. Fortunately, if left untreated, the problem does not usually develop into more serious problems such as colon cancer or ulcerative colitis. Nonetheless, most people choose to pursue treatment in order to alleviate the pain and discomfort.

Diet

Dietary changes are the most common method for treatment. For most people suffering from the condition, certain foods may trigger the symptoms. In order to determine your unique triggers, it is necessary to monitor your diet and determine what foods cause symptoms to appear. By determining these triggers and following a proper diet, the symptoms can be reduced.

Foods commonly associated with colon issues:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Raw fruit
  • Dairy products
  • Fatty foods such as cream, whole milk, butter, cheese, meats, oils, and avocados
  • Foods and beverages containing the artificial sweetener sorbitol
  • Kale, cabbage, legumes, broccoli, and other foods commonly associated with producing gas

Foods that should be included in the diet include those high in fiber, particularly if you suffer from constipation. Fiber should be added to your diet, slowly however, in order to prevent excessive gas. Fiber may be added with the help of a fiber supplement or preferably by adding foods such a fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grain cereals and breads (not bleached or enriched) to your diet.

A change in actual eating habits can also reduce the symptoms of a spastic colon. Eating large meals, for example, can lead to constipation and cramping. Eating too quickly can also cause you to swallow too much air, which can lead to excess gas and belching. In more severe cases, medication may be prescribed. As always, consult a qualified physician to discover if you are suffering from a spastic colon.

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