Spastic colon is also referred by other name such as irritable bowel syndrome, spastic bowel, or nervous colon. It is one of the most common digestive tract disorders present among people in every part of world. Spastic colon is classified with spectrum of symptoms such as abdominal cramps, alternating diarrhea and constipation, bloating, gasses accompanied with passage of stool, frequent urge to pass stool.
In this condition there are no structural or pathological changes visible in the intestine. The cause is mainly functional. Which means the large intestine does not function as it should.Contractions and relaxation of intestinal muscles (motility) occurs either too quickly or too slowly.
Although the exact cause is not known, it is often associated with emotional stress, sensitivity to certain food, genetics, etc. Treatment consists of change in lifestyle, change in diet, and reduction of stress. Sometimes patient may need anti cholinergic medicines to relieve spasms.
Causes And Risk Factors For Spastic Colon
The exact etiology of spastic colon is not known. The cause seems to be functional because there are no pathological changes such as inflammation or infection seen in the large intestine.There are many factors suspected to hamper the normal functioning of the colon. The basic reason is related to abnormal muscle contraction of large intestine. Contractions may be too rapid and intense or too slow and weak.
Factors affecting the normal contraction of intestinal muscle are:
- Stress and anxiety: The condition is seen in people who are generally stressed or too much anxious.
- Food sensitivity: Spastic colon symptoms are observed in people who have sensitivity to certain foods. Foods known to produce spastic colon include chocolates, alcohol, spicy food, caffeinated drinks etc.
- According to some people reduced intake of fiber food is the culprit. It may trigger irregular spasm of intestinal muscles.
- Hereditary: The condition seems to run in families. If one parent is known to suffer from this problem, the sons and daughters are at greater risk of suffering from this condition.
- Spastic colon is observed more in woman as compared to men. This often is seen during or before the menstrual period. Hence researchers suspect hormonal play in increasing the spasms.
- Many patients have noted the problem worsens after taking certain medicines which include antibiotics, anti inflammatory medicines, steroids etc.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Spastic Colon
Spastic colon presents with plethora of symptoms, they are as follows:
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation is classical symptom of spastic colon. When the patient has weak and slow intestinal motility, he suffers from constipation. This may alternate with rapid and strong contractions resulting in diarrhea. Diarrhea typically occurs after eating something or after lunch or dinner. Few people may pass mucus in stool.
- Pain and cramps in abdomen. Pain is especially present in the left lower side of abdomen. The pain may sharp and sudden or slow and constant. Patients feel relieved of pain after bowel movement.
- Distension, bloating and gas is common symptom of spastic colon.
- There is always a sense of incomplete evacuation hence patient often has to visit bathroom.
Aside from this, there are number of other general symptoms present such as intense fatigue, feeling full after eating small amount of food, nausea and vomiting, loss of weight etc.
Alternative Treatment For Spastic Colon
Diagnosis of spastic colon is difficult since there is no confirmatory test to determine the disorder. There are no pathological changes present in the intestine which may be revealed with the help of radiological studies. Hence most of the time, the doctor diagnoses the disease after taking thorough medical history, physical examination, endoscopy, X-ray etc. Certain tests are done to rule out diseases having similar symptoms, such diseases are ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, colon cancer, etc.
Spastic colon considerably disturbs a person’s personal and professional life, although it is not life threatening condition. The main aim is to alleviate symptoms. Conventional treatment consists of anti spasmodic medicines and anti diarrheal medications, anti depressants, fiber supplements etc.
Natural treatment consists of change in food and lifestyle. Reducing stress is extremely important to alleviate abdominal cramps and other symptoms of spastic colon. Patient must start practicing stress reducing activities such as yoga, exercise, meditation etc.
If patient is constipated, he must eat more foods that are rich in fibers such as green vegetables, grains, and fruits. If you are lactose intolerant then substitute milk with other dairy products such as yogurt to ensure your body gets enough amounts of calcium and protein.
Home remedies such as peppermint tea is beneficial to relieve cramps, bloating and diarrhea caused due to spastic colon.
Homeopathic medicines such as sulphur, pulsatilla, lycopodium, argentum nitricum also act well in alleviating the symptoms of this condition.