While colon and rectal disorders aren’t usually a hot topic of conversation, gastrointestinal issues are more common than you may think. The symptoms for digestive conditions are broad and the severity ranges from mild discomfort to long-term health complications. Here are five common digestive conditions, their symptoms, treatments and what you should do if you suspect that you suffer from any of these.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
It’s estimated that 25 and 45 million people in the United States suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. While the name explains a bit of the disorder, IBS doesn’t necessarily display the same symptoms across the board. While some experience constipation, others have chronic diarrhea.
Though the cause of IBS is unknown, doctors largely treat the symptoms by recommending changes in a person’s dietary habits. If you’re diagnosed with IBS, your doctor may suggest you avoid trigger foods and high-fat meals and stock up on fiber-rich foods. Stress and anxiety can also trigger the adverse symptoms of IBS, and behavioral therapy or counseling could be helpful.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the colon where the colon becomes inflamed and develops small sores called ulcers, which can cause discomfort and even long-term complications. Ulcerative colitis can become worse over time and has no known cure.
This condition affects predominantly folks under 30 and may increase chances of bowel cancer. For treating ulcerative colitis, your physician may prescribe medication, and in some chronic cases, discuss surgical options.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that involves the intestinal tract. The disease is diagnosed through a number of steps such as a physical examination, review of family history, x-rays of the intestinal tract, and perhaps a colonoscopy.
Unfortunately for patients living with Crohn’s disease, around 75% of all Crohn’s patients will eventually need surgery.
Another common digestive disease in the U.S. is diverticular disease, which may be due to many Americans’ low-fiber diets. Diverticular disease affects almost half of all Americans by age 60 and most Americans by age 80. Characteristic of diverticular disease is the presence of pockets—or diverticula—in the colon wall, that could eventually progress into inflammation or infection of the pockets.
Similar to many of the other digestive issues mentioned above, diverticular disease can be controlled by a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe medications to control pain or treatments such as stool softeners. Severe or acute diverticular disease may require surgery.
While many digestive issues are more of a discomfort or nuisance, others can have server complications associated with symptoms. If you suspect you are suffering from one of these ailments, contact your colorectal specialist. With treatment and long-term planning, you can get back on track to a happier, healthier life in no time at all!