The intestines are one of the important organs in our digestive system. The intestines resemble a long, continuous tube, which start from the stomach and end in the anus and are divided into small intestine and large intestine. A large part of our abdominal cavity is taken up by our intestines. The function of our intestines is digestion, absorption of water and nutrients. So, you can imagine what can happen if there is any problem or disease of the intestines. Imagine not being able to eat anything due to unrelenting diarrhea or imagine missing your daughter's recital due to bouts of vomiting or stomach pain or cramps. There are many medical conditions, which can affect our intestines due to different causes, resulting in various symptoms, which can range from mild and not requiring any treatment… to severe where you may even need hospitalization and surgery. We have covered various medical conditions affecting our intestines in our INTESTINE INFORMATION CENTER where you can read about their causes, symptoms, investigations, treatment etc. in great detail.
Given below is a brief look in what we have covered in our section. For more topics and detailed read, please refer to our left side menu under our INTESTINE INFORMATION CENTER.
Appendicitis is a condition where there is swelling and inflammation of the appendix. Appendicitis is classified into:
- Acute Appendicitis.
- Sub-Acute Appendicitis.
- Chronic Appendicitis.
- Recurrent Appendicitis.
- Non-Obstructive Appendicitis.
Symptoms depend on the type of appendicitis; however, typical symptoms comprise of: Pain in the abdomen which increases over the time; and associated symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite and fever. The exact cause of appendicitis is not clear; however, according to experts, common causes include infection and obstruction. Diagnostic tests include blood tests, urine tests, MRI, CT scan and ultrasound. Treatment comprises of antibiotics if the appendicitis is mild. However, in majority of the cases, surgery is done to remove the appendix (appendectomy).
Experiencing pain in the abdomen after a meal is termed as abdominal angina. Cause is insufficient blood supply, atherosclerotic vascular disease etc. Women and individuals above the age of 60 are more prone to develop this condition. Symptoms include: Acute and debilitating pain in the mid-epigastric or mid abdominal region after a meal, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, constipation or diarrhea. Abdomen feels soft and hollow to touch and sometimes patient may also experience weight loss. Treatment depends on the cause and comprises of antibiotics and surgery.
For more information, please read under our INTESTINE INFORMATION CENTER on the left side menu.
Celiac disease is a condition where a person experiences an immune reaction in the small intestines, which causes damage to the internal surface of the small intestine resulting in malabsorption of some nutrients. This condition occurs after gluten consumption. The exact cause of celiac disease is not clear; it is often inherited. Risk factors are: Type-1 diabetes, Down's syndrome, microscopic colitis and autoimmune thyroid disease. Symptoms are: Persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and flatulence. Associated symptoms are depression /anxiety, anemia, stomach problems, joint pain, muscle cramps, rashes, oral ulcers, dental problems, bone problems (osteoporosis), weight loss, weakness, foul-smelling stools, slow growth in children. Investigations include blood tests, upper endoscopy, genetic testing, biopsy and capsule endoscopy. There is no known treatment for celiac disease. It can only be managed by making lifestyle and dietary changes. To know more about them, please refer to the left side menu under our INTESTINE INFORMATION CENTER.
Also known as granulomatous enteritis or terminal ileitis, this is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract usually involving the distal part of the ileum. There is a tear in the lining of the small and large intestine; however, the entire digestive tract can also be affected. Main symptoms are cramping and diarrhea. Other symptoms include: Loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, anemia, mouth ulcers, bowel obstruction, anal fissures etc.
Types of Crohn's Disease Include:
- Gastroduodenal Crohn's Disease
- Granulomatous Colitis
The cause for Crohn's disease is not clear. Conditions which are thought to cause Crohn's disease include: Hereditary, problems with the immune system and environmental factors. Diagnostic tests include: Flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, abdominal x-ray, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, barium enema, CT scan, MRI, blood tests, urine tests and biopsy. There is no known treatment for Crohn's disease. This condition is managed by medications such as anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants and antibiotics.
Cyclospora infection is an infection caused by a parasite known as Cyclospora cayetanensis, which results in watery and explosive diarrhea. This parasite can enter the body via contaminated water or food. Symptoms are: Watery diarrhea, increased bowel movements, loss of appetite, weight loss, flatulence, burping, stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, mild fever and weakness. Treatment is done by using a combination of the drugs Septra and Bactrim.
Diverticulitis is a condition where the diverticuli get ruptured resulting in infection of the tissues which are present around the colon. Different types of diverticulitis are:
- Diverticulitis Uncomplicated in Stable Patients
- Diverticulitis Uncomplicated in Older or Ill Patients
- Diverticulitis Complicated
The exact cause is unknown. Symptoms comprise of pain, tenderness, abdominal cramping, flatulence, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever and chills. Investigations done for confirming diverticulitis are: Blood tests, x-ray, CT scan, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and ultrasound. Treatment is done by giving antibiotics, pain relievers and surgery. A low fiber, clear-liquid or bland diet should be followed.
Gastroenteritis is a condition where there is irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Different types of gastroenteritis are:
- Viral Gastroenteritis.
- Bacterial Gastroenteritis.
- Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis.
- Cryptosporidiosis Gastroenteritis.
Bacteria and virus are the main causes of gastroenteritis. Other causes include: Food allergies, heavy metals, chemical toxins, certain medications like antibiotics or steroids, laxatives, caffeine and lactose intolerance. Symptoms comprise of appetite loss, abdominal pain and cramping, headaches, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, weakness, blood in the stools, diarrhea and fever. Treatment is done by drinking lots of fluids, following a bland diet and antibiotics.
Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning caused by eating contaminated foods infected by Listeria monocytogenes, which is a bacterium.
Symptoms consist of fever, muscle pains, diarrhea and sometimes nausea. In severe cases, patient may also experience headaches, convulsions and disorientation. Treatment may not be needed if the patient's immune system is strong and the general health is good, as the condition resolves on its own. Otherwise antibiotics are the main line of treatment.
Other Intestinal Diseases Which are Covered in this Section:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Intestinal Obstruction or Bowel Obstruction
- Ulcerative colitis
- Umbilical hernia
- Hirschsprung Disease
- Intestinal Obstruction
- Microscopic Colitis
- Intestinal Malrotation
- Upper & Lower Gastrointestinal Bleeding
- Short Bowel Syndrome or Short Gut Syndrome
- Whipple’s Disease
- Toxic Megacolon