A tortuous colon can be the reason why you are having problems with your stomach.
Do you suffer from constipation frequently? Have you experienced a bloated stomach often? Is there any swelling on any side of the stomach on the lower abdomen? Never take these symptoms lightly or ignore them.
Tortuous colon, why does it happen, and how can it affect you? Also, what care should one take?
Read on and know all about the tortuous colon.
Understanding Tortuous Colon: The Basic Anatomy Of The Colon
As the ncbi.nlm.nih said, one of the essential systems of the body is the digestive system. The large intestine (also called the colon) plays a significant role in digestion.
It forms the last section of the system. The digested food (partly undigested food as well) pass through the colon. Finally, it releases out of the body through the rectum and the anus.
The colon has a vast number of bacteria. These break up the undigested food. Also, bacteria try to absorb nutrients as much as possible from the remaining matter. Furthermore, the absorption of excess water from the waste matter is one of the functions of the colon. Finally, the waste matter excreted out of the body.
The colon has a length of 120–150cm snugly fitted in the abdomen. It coils over the small intestine. The ascending part which goes up turns horizontal over the small intestine. Then it comes down (descending part). Finally, it ends up in the rectum and the anus.
The sigmoid is the fag end of the colon. It finally stores the waste matter before its exit out of the body.
We have to understand the basic anatomy of the colon and its placement in the body. Because “tortuous colon” is an anatomical disorder of the colon.
Though not very prevalent, a good number of people suffer from a disorder of the colon.
What Is Tortuous Colon?
In some people, the colon is extra-long than the standard 120cm–150cm. In some cases, the total length of the defective colon could be twice the standard length.
As we had seen above the standard colon fits very snugly in its designated place. And these functions smoothly. Now the length is extra. As a result, unnecessary kinks, folds, loops, and twists develop in the colon—the reason, shortage of space to accommodate the extra length.
Because of the extra loops, kinks, and folds, the smooth movement of the fecal matter gets severely hampered. Consequently, it leads to many uncomfortable and unhealthy situations. At times, because of severe and sharp loops, the blood supply gets hampered. Then it becomes an emergency of sorts.
This condition is known as a tortuous colon, and it can be a harrowing and uncomfortable situation. Many people know this condition by the name of the elongated colon or redundant colon.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tortuous Colon?
The symptoms of tortuous colon are very distinct. Some prominent ones according to Healthline are:
- Bloating – If the bowel movement is improper, it will lead to a gassy stomach. Besides, the two together will result in a bloated stomach.
- Constipation – Extra-long colon with loops and twists obstructs the bowel movement. In consequence, this leads to severe constipation.
- Rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids, fissures – Faecal impaction (waste stuck in the colon become dry and difficult to move) leads to constipation. Severe constipation most of the times results in:
- Hemorrhoids: There is immense pressure in the entire colon. Subsequently, that shows in the swollen veins around the rectum. Generally termed as hemorrhoids.
- Fissure: At times, colon pressure goes beyond the capacity of tissues and muscles to handle. Thus, small cracks appear in the lining of the anus. They are not as severe. But if the pressure persists, it develops into deeper cracks and wounds.
- Rectal Prolapse: It is a complicated situation. The intestine comes out of the anus to some extent. As a result, there is enormous gastric and colonic pressure.
4. In some cases, the tortuous colon could manifest into a sigmoid volvulus (twisting of the sigmoid colon). In such a case, pain in the lower abdomen, vomiting, and nausea results.
5. The concentration level reduces to a large extent. Therefore, one cannot pull on even with day to day activities.
6. The irritability increases substantially.
7. The body feels lethargic and very low on energy. Also, one feels like throwing oneself on the couch the whole day. This further aggravates the symptoms.
What Are The Causes Of Tortuous Colon?
Genetics plays a significant role in the tortuous colon. If anyone in the family, from either parent’s lineage, has a tortuous colon, the person may have it.
Surprisingly apart from genetics, no other reasons have yet been identified with the occurrence of tortuous colon.
But it has been observed that in following conditions the colon increases in length:
- Frequent constipation is known to elongate the colon.
- Exerting pressure because of hard stools, over time, leads to the lengthy colon.
- A consistent low fiber diet leads to the above situations. Thus it is considered to be one of the probable causes.
Remedies For Tortuous Colon
It is challenging to correct the tortuous colon with medicines. Medications cannot shorten the elongated colon, however, the symptoms can be treated to bring under control to some extent. The biggest concern is constipation and pain. So the following medicines may help:
- Antispasmodic medicines
- Fiber supplement
- Other constipation medicines
These medicines may suppress the symptoms for some time. But surely, they are not a long-term solution to the problem.
One of the following procedures/surgeries could be a long-term solution for the same.
- Sigmoidoscopy: As we recollect, colon sigmoid is the last part of the colon. Then it concludes into the rectum and anus. Sigmoid volvulus is the condition in which the sigmoid folds up.
In this procedure, a small tube gets inserted in the sigmoid, via the anus. Then, the air gets blown through the tube into the sigmoid. Consequently, this pushes and bloats the sigmoid and creases. Folds straighten up as it happens in ballons.
One cannot classify this as a definitive final treatment. But surely the effect does last for some time. Also, in some minor cases of tortuous colon, it may provide permanent relief.
- Colonoscopy: In this procedure also, an endoscope type tube gets inserted via the anus into the folded part of the colon. Controlled air is blown in, with an idea of straightening up the colon.
As in the sigmoidoscopy, this will work for minor folds and creases. But in the case of significant loops, chances of reoccurrence is very high.
A rather long-term solution to the tortuous colon is surgery. Surgery attempts to remove the elongated part of the colon, which has folded or looped very severely.
The surgeon may access the part of the colon by making incisions, ie. open surgery. Or in some cases, laparoscopy may be performed. In this, the tiny incision made on the abdomen. This type of surgery where a part of the colon gets removed is known as a partial colectomy or subtotal colectomy.
Hospitalization is a must in the case of colon surgery. Preoperative care, and preparing the patient for the operation is as critical as the surgery itself.
The patient may be in the hospital for about a week to ten-day for recovery. Initial nutrition may be all through intravenous. When on a liquid diet, the colon recoups. Gradually semi-solid and solid food also be introduced to the patient.
Once the patient is on solid food and able to process it well, it seems a sign of recovery. And if no other postoperative complication crops up, the patient gets discharged.
However, we should be aware of some risks associated with colon surgery:
- The chances of infection. This risk is actual for any kind of surgery. Moreover, in the case of colon surgery.
- There are several organs in the close vicinity of the colon. One cannot rule out the accidental damage to these organs. Though, this risk gets mitigated significantly when a senior and experienced surgeon operates. Nevertheless, the risk does exist.
- The risk of anastomotic leak manifests when the joining of the colon has not healed. And it still leaks. Thus, this problem can get severe.
- Sometimes when the joint wound heals, it tends to develop scar tissue. Additionally, the scar tissue may result in some blockages.
When Should You Call A Doctor?
Post colon operation, we should immediately call the doctor. Note any of the following symptoms developing:
- If high fever beyond 1010F persists
- If blood oozes out of the rectum
- The abdomen areas develop swelling.
- Medicines are not able to subside the pain. They almost feel useless.
- A constant feeling of vomiting and nausea.
- A sudden feeling of chill.
- Perceptible short breath and persistent cough occur.
- Pus formation on any of the operation cuts noticed.
- Any kind of redness or inflammation around the operation cuts visible.
- Eating or drinking anything becomes difficult.
Prevention Of Redundant Colon
The exact cause of a redundant colon is still elusive. But all care and precautions can be taken to ensure constipation does not strike.
One can keep constipation at bay. Naturally, by managing diet properly and eating sensibly. The following suggestion is based on WebMD and will help avoid constipation. This way, the complication of the redundant colon can be controlled.
It is the key to ensure a smooth bowel movement and tortuous colon. Insoluble fiber attaches to the food and increases the roughages. A a result, the food moves a bit easier than a sticky lump. Typically, for a good bowel movement, about 30 grams of fiber needed by men and 25 grams by a woman.
Apple, broccoli, spinach, raspberries, pear, Brussel sprouts are excellent natural sources of fibers. However, when these natural sources are not accessible, fiber supplements are also available in the pharmacy. Instead, it is always better to opt for a natural source of fiber.
It is a very useful and effective laxative. Typically, flaxseed helps in the bowel movement. We can have flaxseeds as it is or adds it to our salads, soups, or cereal. We get whole flaxseed, ground flaxseed meals and flaxseed oils at almost all the groceries outlet. Remember to have flaxseed in some form or the other every day.
Whole wheat bread is always better than the white flour bread because of its fiber content. Similarly, oatmeal, popcorn, and brown rice have edible fiber and roughage. The nutritional value of the whole grain is also much higher than refined flour. Therefore, always include at least one variety of whole grain in your meals.
It helps keep the waste matter soft and smooth. Hard and caked fecal matter cannot move quickly through the intestines. So, as standard practice and habit, one should drink around 2 liters of water every day. Also, drinking warm water further assists the digestion. The movement of the bowels is also good.
Dried plums or prunes that are rich in fibers. They also contain sorbitol and phenolic acid. Sorbitol is known for its effect on smooth bowel movement. So, consuming these, bowel movement frequency also improves. That keeps the colon, clean, and fresh most of the time.
Avoid all types of fast food and junk food
They contain lots of fat, refined white flour, and such constituents. These constituents are tough on the digestive system. Also, they have deficient fibers. The chances of strenuous bowel movement or constipation increase substantially.
So, eat meals on time and involve yourself in some physical activity that assists the digestive system. However, one must cut down on smoking and cold drinks drastically.
Though it seems challenging to practice and adopt, then too, attempt to reduce exposure to mental stress. All these steps will help stay clear of constipation. If the bowels move correctly, the effect of the redundant colon will not bother us.
The tortuous colon is not life-threatening. Nevertheless, it is quite painful and difficult to bear. Though the exact cause not known, the treatment of redundant colon is possible.
Much better would be to be careful and cautious if any family member has a tortuous colon. Proper diet and lifestyle can prevent us from suffering from the elongated colon.