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Colon Conditions: Now this is embarrassing…

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Do you want to talk about diarrhea? Or constipation? Would you like to have a discussion about polyps in your large intestine?

Probably not. Like most people, you may shy away from discussing what goes on in your bowels.

It’s time to get over it. Remember:

  • Cancer of the colon and rectum, or colorectal cancer, is No. 3 on the list of most common causes of cancer death.
  • Acute diarrhea is second only to respiratory infections in reported illnesses in the U.S.
  • As many as 15 percent of Americans have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In fact, it’s the most common condition diagnosed by gastroenterologists.

So now is a good time to talk about bowel problems and how Centegra’s physicians can help treat or even prevent them.

COLON CONDITIONS AND SYMPTOMS

Your colon is close to the end of your digestive tract. However, troubling symptoms can affect you from your head down, such as:

Mouth ulcers. These can be a symptom of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition.

Belching and gas. One cause may be how bacteria in your colon deal with undigested food.

Hemorrhoids. These are swollen veins in the rectum, which are often painful. They can be internal or external.

Fortunately, changes in diet—such as eating more fiber or avoiding certain foods—often ease symptoms.

Other symptoms, however, such as rectal bleeding or blood in your stools, may be a sign of colorectal cancer. Several screening tests offered at Centegra can spot this disease early or even prevent it.

SCREENING FOR COLON HEALTH

Screening for colon cancer usually begins at age 50, or earlier if you’re at increased risk. Screening tests include:

Colonoscopy. It can find and remove  polyps before they turn cancerous.

Sigmoidoscopy. This test is limited to viewing the lower portion of your colon. A colonoscopy may follow if polyps are found.

Fecal occult blood test. This test looks for signs of blood in your stool.

Ask your doctor if you’re due for these or other screenings for colon health.

Additional sources: American College of Gastroenterology; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force