Colon health problems are a common issue, particularly as people age. The colon is the last part of the intestinal tract and makes up the ascending colon (which begins near the appendix), the transverse colon (which begins near the liver and changes direction near the spleen), the descending colon (which begins near the spleen and ends down in the pelvis), and the sigmoid colon (which is the small area between the descending colon and rectum). Each area of the colon can be affected by problems such as inflammation, lesions, polyps, or cancer. One of the ways a doctor assesses the health of the colon is through visual inspection done through a procedure called a colonoscopy. A gastroenterologist specialist will insert a long-tube with a small camera attached and inspect each section of the colon looking for any suspicious findings, i.e. lesion, tumors. Colonoscopy’s are a foundational examination procedure of physician specialists in intestinal health and disease and through detection of colon health problems save thousands of live each year by early detection of disease processes.
Colon Health Problems – Polyps and Cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control, of cancers of that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. This is why the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends everyone starting at age 50 begin with fecal blood sampling, sigmoidoscopy (visual examination of rectum and sigmoid), and colonoscopy. The goal is to increase cancer detection, and increase rates of survival through early intervention as much as possible. Polyps are small outgrowths from the colon wall and have the potential to turn cancerous. One of the reasons to start colonoscopy at age 50 is with advancing age there is greater potential for polyp formation. Polyps do not normally cause pain so it is possible to have multiple polyps in the colon and not know it.
Colon Health Problems – Ulcerative Colitis
Colon health problems that involve pain, inflammation, rectal bleeding, and loose bowels may be related to Ulcerative colitis (UC). UC is a chronic disease of the colon (aka. large intestine). The lining of the colon becomes inflamed and overtime develops various lesions such as open sores and ulcers. These lesions produce pus and mucus which can contribute to loose stools and discharge. The irritation in the colon that comes from UC can cause significant abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the large intestine.
Ulcerative colitis is considered an autoimmune disease where the immune system abnormally attacks the colon creating the problems listed above. Normally, the cells of the immune system protect us from infection. However, in UC (and Chron’s disease as well – another inflammatory bowel disorder affecting the small intestine) the immune system mistakes intestinal bacteria, food stuff, and other material as foreign substances. Ulcerative colitis is a serious cause of colon health problems affecting over 700,000 people in the United States, and is most commonly diagnosed in men and women over the age of 30.
Colon Health Problems – Constipation, Gas, Bloating
Not all colon health problems are specifically linked to colon cancer or ulcerative colitis. In fact, the vast majority of people complaining of things like constipation, gas, and bloating do not have colon cancer or UC. The colon is the last part of the digestive system and is primarily involved in accumulating fecal material that has been generated by the liver through bile, and forming stool as a mass of left-over digestive debris that has been produced within the small intestine. The colon resorbs excess water back into the body and moves the fecal material along the large intestine to eventually be evacuated through the rectum. What generates a lot of colon health problem complaints for millions of people is the inefficiency of stool evacuation leading to constipation, gas, and bloating. There are many reasons for this such as poor diet, lack of fiber, reduced normal bacteria (intestinal flora), sluggish peristaltic activity, etc. Chronic candida overgrowth in the large intestine can also contribute to these problems, as well as other types of infections such as parasites. For these problems diagnostic testing is worthwhile.
Colon Health Problems
Apart from the standard recommendations of colon health problem assessment starting around age 50 as discussed above there are some beneficial integrative medicine tests that can be performed to identify potential problems in the digestive system as well. The Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) is an all-around excellent way of assessing digestive health as it provides analysis of bacteria, yeast, parasite detection, digestion and markers of inflammation, blood and acid/alkaline health. In addition to the CDSA is the Organic Acids Test (OAT) which provides metabolic insight into yeast and bacterial toxins and other biochemical markers. Finally, doing a Comprehensive Food IgG test helps to identify various food sensitivities which can contribute/cause many colon health problems. All three of these tests are available from Great Plains Laboratory.
Summary of Colon Health Problems
Most people who suffer with colon health problems are not dealing with inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. However, it is critically important to follow a health professional’s advice on early screening based on age and symptoms to detect any problems early on. For many people performing the tests listed – CDSA, OAT, and Food IgG – will go a long way in determining the potential cause or contributing factors to their issues, and help resolve years of chronic bowel issues that have been at the heart of their colon health problems.
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