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An integral part of the digestive tract is the small intestine, also known as the small bowel. There is a long portion of the digestive system that connects the stomach to the large intestine.
Vitamins and minerals are absorbed by the small intestine as food is digested. Small intestine problems can affect not only one’s health but also one’s diet, which can affect the entire body.
There are several conditions and diseases that can affect the small intestine, including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Diagnosis of Small Intestine disease
The signs and symptoms of problems with the small intestine might not seem related to digestion. However, the following tests may be used to detect problems in the small intestine:
Barium swallow and small bowel follow-through: The Oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine are viewed with X-rays after drinking a barium-based contrast solution.
Blood tests may not be used to diagnose a disease, but they can discover conditions such as anaemia or vitamin deficiency.
Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy finds problems with the colon (large intestine) rather than the small intestine, but it might also rule out other digestive problems.
CT scan: This is an X-ray that records detailed images of internal organs in the abdomen.
MRI: This imaging test uses a powerful magnet to scan the abdomen and produce images.
An endoscope, a small tube with a light and a camera on the end, is inserted in the mouth and down the Oesophagus until it reaches the stomach and early part of the small intestine. Tests might involve removing a biopsy (a small piece of tissue or fluid).
Breath tests: A breath test may diagnose or rule out small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
Testing stool for an infection: To rule out problems like an infection, stool might be sent to a lab for testing, which may include a bacterial culture.
Ultrasound: Sound waves are used to examine organs and structures in the abdomen.
Treatment of small intestinal disease
Depending on what’s causing your small bowel condition, you will need a different treatment. It is possible to treat a mental health problem with lifestyle changes such as diet and nutrition, stress reduction, or working with a mental health professional.
Celiac disease is treated by avoiding gluten. Treatment for symptoms outside the digestive system may be available, but there are no medications currently available to treat the condition.
Medications and lifestyle changes are both parts of the treatment for Crohn’s disease. There may be times when surgery is needed, such as when the bowel becomes narrow.
Treatment for IBS may include lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and medication. IBS sufferers may also be able to control their symptoms by identifying what triggers their symptoms.
Treatment for SIBO may include antibiotics to inhibit the growth of bacteria. As well as addressing any underlying conditions, nutritional support may also be necessary.
Bowel blockages might be treated in the hospital with decompression, which is done by inserting a flexible tube through the nose and down into the stomach. In some cases, surgery to remove the blocked section of the small intestine might be needed.
Large Intestine Diseases:
As the small intestine empties into the large intestine, also known as the colon or large bowel, begins just below the right waist and extends up the abdomen. In addition to digestion, the large intestine is responsible for absorbing water from indigestible food matter and for the expulsion of waste materials.
Diseases of the large intestine and their symptoms
A large intestine disease can cause various types of symptoms depending on which part of the large bowel is affected. As well as coming and going with flare-ups, these symptoms can range from mild to severe. The symptoms of the large intestine can also be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary according to the underlying disease, disorder, or condition.
Large intestine diseases are characterised by the following symptoms:
Abdominal swelling, distension or bloating
Bloody stool (blood may be red, black, or tarry in texture)
Fever and chills
Inability to defecate or pass gas
Nausea with or without vomiting
A large intestine may also cause the following symptoms that can affect a patient’s overall health and well-being:
Loss of appetite
Skin and hair conditions
Unexplained weight loss
Weakness (loss of strength)
Large intestine disease diagnosis
A complete medical history and physical examination are required in order to diagnose what type of large intestine disease a patient is experiencing. Depending on your condition, you may also need to undergo diagnostic tests to develop a treatment plan, which may include:
Breath tests with lactose. An easy, non-invasive way to assess absorption. Radiation is measured in the breath using a nutrient that contains radioactive material.
Colonoscopy: The large intestine is examined with the help of a thin, flexible tube. Using this test, you can find ulcers, polyps, tumours, and bleeding or inflammatory areas. A biopsy can be performed to collect tissue samples and remove abnormal growths. It may also be used to detect cancer of precancerous growths (polyps) in the colon or rectum.
Endoscopy in the capsule may provide a better view of the lower digestive tract than a traditional colonoscopy.
Sigmoidoscopy: A procedure used to look inside the rectum and the area of the large intestine closest to it.
Imaging tests. X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, MRIs, and PET scans
Ultrasound: Excellent for detecting large intestinal tumours.
Large intestine disease: treatment
The physician may suggest a few simple steps to determine if your symptoms will subside, such as:
Avoid foods that trigger the symptoms
Increase dietary fibre
Maintain a healthy weight
Medications (i.e., over-the-counter or prescription medications)
Why choose CARE Hospitals
Infections such as C.difficile are treated in CARE Hospitals by our colorectal surgeons and infectious disease specialists.
You may be advised to undergo surgery as an advanced treatment measure including:
Colon and rectal surgery
Sacral nerve implants/stimulation for accidental stool leakage
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