A tortuous colon, sometimes called an elongated or redundant colon is a condition why may or may not exhibit symptoms in a patient. This condition comes about due to the elongation of the large intestine, which makes the colon twist and turn seriously as it tries to fit within the abdominal cavity. A tortuous colon may lead to obstruction and blockages, which may be serious. The patient may also have difficulty in passing fecal matter which ultimately leads to chronic constipation.
Symptoms of a tortuous colon
Some people will not suffer any symptoms, while others will have serious gastrointestinal complications due to a tortuous colon.
The symptoms will include
- Fecal compaction
If untreated, fecal impaction can be very dangerous. This is the hardened stool which gets stuck in the rectum and cannot be passed, basically stopping the proper movement of feces in the colon.
Constipation brought about by this condition will also lead to further complications such as anal fissure, prolapsed rectum and hemorrhoids.
People who have a tortuous colon can easily get colonic volvulus, which will bring about colonic obstruction. When the flow of stool is slowed or stopped, the patient may require emergency surgery.
Sometimes a tortuous colon will be discovered during a routine colonoscopy or unrelated barium X-ray. One can be born with a tortuous colon or develop it later in life. The condition also has a genetic disposition, so if a parent has the condition, the child may also develop it.
One of the main causes of a tortuous colon is poor diet. One must take a high-fiber diet and hydrate properly in order to stop the development of the condition.
Eating too much processed foods regularly will lead to chronic constipation which will force the person to strain excessively when passing stool. This will strain the colon, and bring about the tortuous colon. The slow movement of feces in a constipation patient will also add strain to the colon and make it become longer.
The physical signs, symptoms and visible signs are the ones that indicate a patient has a tortuous colon. The first thing that the doctor will do is carry out a colonoscopy. This is the most effective way of diagnosing the condition since the doctor can see how much the colon has been twisted and looped.
It is now always necessary to undergo medical treatment for a tortuous colon; this is only pursued when the patient suffers from pain, discomfort and other gastrointestinal complications. For mild symptoms, the overall stress on the colon can be reduced by simply making lifestyle changes. One should eat foods that are rich in fiber and drink a lot of water; this softens the stool and makes it easier to pass.
The doctor may also prescribe laxatives, which help is moving stool through the colon and proper elimination without straining. If there is intestinal obstruction, surgery is the only solution.
Diet for a tortuous colon
The first step towards treating a tortuous colon is changing the diet.
Men should have a fiber intake of 30 grams or more, while women need at least 20 grams.
Hydration requirements change according to lifestyle and climate, but generally, men should have 7 sixteen-ounce bottles of water a day, while women need at least 5.
Hydration and fiber can also be derived from eating fruits, vegetables and broths such as:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Acorn Squash
- Flax and Chia seeds
Eating prunes will help you keep your fiber intake at optimal levels and also help in relieving constipation. They contain phenolic acids and sorbitol which help in improving bowel function.
Fiber helps by pulling water from the body, adding bulk to stools making it easier to pass them without straining. Fiber has also been fund to strengthen the walls of the colon, making it easier to move the bowel.
Do not just start taking a large amount of fiber; you should ease into it and increase our daily intake gradually each day. If you suddenly increase your fiber intake, you may suffer from stomach cramping, gas and bloating.
An example of how you should gradually increase your fiber intake can be:
Start off by replacing white bread with whole-grain bread. This will increase your fiber intake by a small amount. After a few days, you can start taking in some fruits or vegetables which have high fiber content. Repeat this process till you get to the required fiber intake for a healthy colon.
Make sure that you take in a lot of fluids as you increase your fiber intake. This will provide more body fluids for the fiber to draw into the colon when it gets there.