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Diseases of the lower gastrointestinal tract

  • Posted on- Jul 31, 2015
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The lower GI tract, as other organ systems, responds with a limited number of symptoms. Most are nonspecific and occur in response to many situations. The most common are abdominal pain or distress, bloating, passage of gas (flatulence), diarrhoea, and constipation. These symptoms are normal responses but are increased in frequency and intensity in functional lower GI disorders.

Diseases associated with Lower GI Tract

  • Colon Polyps
Colon polyps are growths on the lining of your colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps can become cancerous, and removing polyps can help prevent cancer of the colon and rectum.

Symptoms of colon polyps
Most people with colon polyps don’t have symptoms, so you can’t tell that you don’t have polyps because you feel well. When colon polyps do cause symptoms, you may have bleeding from your rectum, have blood in your stool, or feel tired because of anaemia.

Treatment for colon polyps
Gastroenterologists treat colon polyps by removing them. Doctors can remove almost all polyps without surgery. In most cases, doctors remove colon polyps during colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.

You may lower your chances of developing polyps by eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less fatty food, red meat, and processed meat. Talk with your doctor about getting more calcium and vitamin D.

  • Constipation
Constipation is a condition in which you have fewer than three bowel movements a week, or hard, dry and small bowel movements that are painful or difficult to pass.

Symptoms of constipation
The most common symptoms of constipation are fewer than-normal bowel movements, stool that is difficult or painful to pass, and pain or bloating in your abdomen.

Treatment for Constipation
Treatments for constipation include making changes in your eating, diet, and nutrition exercise and lifestyle changes medicines and supplements biofeedback and surgery.

Your eating and diet may affect your chances of becoming constipated. If your diet has too little fibre, you may get constipated.

  • Crohn's Disease
Crohn's disease is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation-irritation or swelling in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Most commonly, Crohn's affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. However, the disease can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus.

Symptoms of Crohn's disease
The most common signs and symptoms of Crohn's disease are diarrhoea, abdominal cramping and pain, weight loss, feeling tired, nausea or loss of appetite, fever and anaemia.

Treatment for Crohn's disease
A gastroenterologist treats Crohn's disease with medications, bowel rest and surgery.

  • Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is loose, watery stools. Having diarrhoea means passing loose stools three or more times a day. Acute diarrhoea is a common problem that usually lasts 1 or 2 days and goes away on its own. Diarrhoea of any duration may cause dehydration, which means the body lacks enough fluid and electrolytes-chemicals in salts, including sodium, potassium, and chloride-to function properly. Loose stools contain more fluid and electrolytes and weigh more than solid stools.

Symptoms of Diarrhoea
Diarrhoea can cause dehydration. Loss of electrolytes through dehydration affects the amount of water in the body, muscle activity, and other important functions which can lead to thirst, less frequent urination than usual, dark-coloured urine, dry skin, fatigue, dizziness and lightheadedness.

Treatment for Diarrhoea
In most cases of diarrhoea, the only treatment necessary is replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Over-the-counter medicines such as loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate) may help stop diarrhoea in adults. However, people with bloody diarrhoea-a sign of bacterial or parasitic infection-should not use these medicines. If diarrhoea is caused by bacteria or parasites, over-the-counter medicines may prolong the problem, so gastroenterologists usually prescribe antibiotics instead.

  • Haemorrhoids
Haemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins around the anus or in the lower rectum. The rectum is the last part of the large intestine leading to the anus. The anus is the opening at the end of the digestive tract where bowel contents leave the body.

Symptoms of Haemorrhoids
The most common symptom of internal haemorrhoids is bright red blood on stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement. Internal haemorrhoids that are not prolapsed are usually not painful. Prolapsed haemorrhoids often cause pain, discomfort, and anal itching.

Blood clots may form in external haemorrhoids. A blood clot in a vein is called a thrombosis.

Treatment of Haemorrhoids
Simple diet and lifestyle changes often reduce the swelling of haemorrhoids and relieve haemorrhoid symptoms. Eating a high-fibre diet can make stools softer and easier to pass, reducing the pressure on haemorrhoids caused by straining. If at-home treatments do not relieve symptoms, a visit to a doctor becomes necessary.

  • Ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, or long lasting, disease that causes inflammation-irritation or swelling-and sores called ulcers on the inner lining of the large intestine. Most people with ulcerative colitis receive care from a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases.

Symptoms of ulcerative
colitis The most common signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis are diarrhoea with blood or pus and abdominal discomfort. Other signs and symptoms include an urgent need to have a bowel movement, feeling tired, nausea or loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and anaemia.

Treatment of ulcerative colitis
A gastroenterologist treats ulcerative colitis with medications and surgery.

Avoiding smoking, eating a balanced diet and regular consultation with a qualified gastroenterologist is what will make your digestive system a happy one.