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Signs that the Colon is not Functioning Normally

The colon is the final part of the digestive system of the body. It is from here that the remaining undigested food passes to the rectum to be eliminated from the body. Any problem with this part of the body may bring about a wide variety of symptoms of which some are quite common to other ailments of the digestive system as well but there are certain telltale signs that all is not well with the colon and it is not functioning the way it should be.

The signs may vary from constipation, diarrhea to blood in the stools which may be indicative that the colon is not functioning normally. This article gives you a brief overview of what are the signs which may point that the colon is not functioning normally. It is recommended that the signs mentioned here may look ordinary but if they continue chronically without showing signs of abating despite treatment then it may be a clear sign that colon is not functioning normally.

Signs that the Colon is not Functioning Normally

Signs that the Colon is not Functioning Normally

Pain and Tenderness in the Abdominal Area

Pain is always the beginning of a physical ailment. Any signs of abdominal pain and tenderness that does not go away with conventional treatment may be a sign that colon is not functioning normally.

Changes in Bowel Habits

This sign is quite common with any problems within the digestive tract and colon is not exception. Persistent diarrhea alternating with constipation can be caused by anything like a change in diet to a side effect of a medication but if they persist despite changes in diet and medications then it may point more towards issues with the colon signaling that the colon is not functioning normally.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one such condition in which the patient experiences diarrhea and constipation along with colitis or Crohn’s disease, or colorectal polyp. Ileus is another condition of the colon which may cause diarrhea with constipation.

Stool Color

Having black or tarry stool is yet another classic sign that colon is not functioning normally. Another sign that colon is not functioning normally is fecal incontinence or the inability to prevent a bowel movement from occuring before you get to the bathroom.


Passing excessive gases can be yet another sign that colon is not functioning normally.

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite with unintentional weight loss is a telltale sign that something is seriously wrong with the body. This when accompanied with the above mentioned conditions are a clear sign that colon is not functioning normally and may be associated with colorectal cancer, although Colitis or Crohn’s Disease may also cause loss of appetite with unintentional weight loss.


If you constantly feel full without even eating properly then it could be a sign of some colon disorders like colitis, diverticulitis, or Crohn’s Disease.

Persistent Fatigue

Persistent fatigue along with the above mentioned symptoms may also be a sign that colon is not functioning normally and may be caused due to Angiodysplasia, Colitis or Crohn’s disease, Colorectal Polyp, or Colorectal cancer

Unintentional Weight Loss

If you have been losing weight due to issues related to digestion or appetite loss then it could be an indicator of problems involving your colon such as colorectal cancer, colitis or crohn’s disease.

Yellow Eyes

While yellowing of eyes is usually associated with problems with the liver, there are also certain medical conditions of the colon that may also cause yellow eyes. These conditions are:

  • Angiodysplasia. This is caused due to swelling of the blood vessels in the colon
  • Colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Colorectal polyp
  • Colorectal cancer

Colitis or Crohn’s Disease

You may be suffering from Colitis or Crohn’s disease, which involves inflammation of the colon. It may also be a sign of a colorectal polyp which if left untreated may go on to develop colorectal cancer. Diverticulitis is also one such condition that you may be suffering from which arises due to inflammation of the colon.


Colorectal cancer is yet another potentially serious medical condition that also tends to cause diarrhea alternating with constipation. A more emergent medical attention is required in cases where there is presence of blood in the stools or an individual is having bloody diarrhea as this is a classic sign that colon is not functioning normally.

In summary, the classic signs of health issues with the colon are quite variable and range from constipation and diarrhea to yellow eyes and weight and appetite loss. If you experience any of the above signs then it is highly recommended to get a colon screening which is usually done with a colonoscopy which will detect any issues with the colon so that a treatment can be formulated at the earliest in cases of Colorectal Cancer or Crohn Disease. Here it is very important to understand the signs for a definitive diagnosis and prompt treatment for colon if it is not functioning normally.


  1. “Gastrointestinal Disorders” – Merck Manual Consumer Version Link: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/digestive-disorders

  2. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)” – Mayo Clinic Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016

  3. “Crohn’s Disease” – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Link: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/crohns-disease

  4. “Diverticulitis” – Mayo Clinic Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diverticulitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20371758

  5. “Understanding Colorectal Cancer” – American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) Link: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/colorectal-cancer

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2023

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