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Large intestine diseases include irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. A hollow organ situated in the lower abdomen, the large intestine plays an important role in the digestive process. Composed of the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal canal, the large intestine stretches from the small intestine to the anus and aids in absorbing nutrients and water. People experiencing difficulty with this area of their body may be suffering from one of the many large intestine diseases.
Irritable bowel syndrome, also referred to as nervous indigestion, occurs when the colon excessively contracts. When food is forced through the large intestine faster than usual, it causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea. With irritable bowel syndrome, sometimes the opposite occurs, and when food moves too slowly it leads to hard and dry stools. Emotional stress and certain medications may often trigger the symptoms to become worse. Certain foods and drinks like milk, soda, alcohol, and fruits and vegetables my cause discomfort for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is another of the most common large intestine diseases. Polyps may sometimes develop in the large intestine and over time progress into cancer. Smoking and consuming a diet consisting of high fat, low-fiber foods may often bring about colon cancer. Additional risk factors for colon cancer include advanced age and having a family history of colon cancer. If caught early, colon cancer is highly treatable, but if it is not, the cancer can spread throughout the body, leading to terminal cancer.
Ulcerative colitis typically affects people between the ages of 15 and 30. An inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis is often characterized by cramps, abdominal pain, and bloody stools that are caused by the growth of sores in the large intestine. The exact cause of ulcerative colitis remains unknown, but it is believed to be related to an overactive immune system. In some extreme cases, ulcerative colitis can lead to hemorrhaging and rupturing of the colon.
Crohn’s disease is another inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine. Like some other large intestine diseases, Crohn's is typified by abdominal pain and constant diarrhea. If the disease becomes severe enough, it can lead to blockage of the large intestine, as well as ulcers that can create holes in other organs. The cause of Crohn’s disease is not readily known, but research indicates the disease may be genetic and also related to the immune system. Crhon’s disease is treatable with lifestyle changes and medications, and sometimes, surgery.
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