Lifestyle And Dietary Factors Leading To Colorectal Disorders
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A reputed surgeon & proctologist from Apollo Spectra Hospital explains how your lifestyle could put you at high risk of colorectal cancer, colonic polyps, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other colorectal disorders.
In recent times, changing lifestyles and the ‘eating out’ culture have significantly disrupted the healthy functioning of our digestive system, leading to colorectal disorders. Studies reveal that colorectal disorder is the second-most common disorder that human beings suffer from. However, early diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention can significantly help in the long run.
Our colon, or large bowel, otherwise known as the large intestine, is the organ of excretion of waste, as well as an important organ for maintining water balance in our body. During the final stage of digestion, the water and nutrients are absorbed by the colon, and the waste is temporarily stored in the rectum, until it is finally expelled by the body through the anus.
Some points to ponder:
- People who are overweight or out of shape and have unhealthy dietary habits can suffer from poor bowel movement.
- A lack of physical exercise, along with prolonged sitting, be it in your car or at your office desk, also leads to retarded bowel movements.
- Improper diet timings as well as sleep patterns make the body’s rhythm go haywire, thereby affecting the health of the gut.
- Consumption of an excessive amount of proteins, like red meat or processed meat, takes a toll on the body – especially on the digestive system.
- Excessive use of alcohol and cigarettes is always risky, as they directly affect the digestive system. If one has a family history of cancer of the intestine, then these toxic activities increase the person’s risk of getting colon cancer by 8 times, with it being highly likely that the cancer will be the aggressive type.
- Due to ageing and a slowdown of the body, most people aged above 50 are at risk of developing the disorder, if proper care is not taken.
- Individuals with a history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at greater risk of getting colorectal cancer.
- If one has diabetes, then the blood flow as well as the nerves leading to the intestine do not function well, and this leads to a loss of oxygenation to the walls of the colon, thereby resulting in constipation, perforation (a tear or hole in the intestine), diverticular disease, piles, and cancer.
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more that 2 weeks.
- A feeling that you need to empty your rectum but have to apply force or sometimes, use your finger.
- Blood in your stool, dark maroon or black stool, cramping of the abdomen, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and blood mixed with sticky, frothy mucus in your stool are red flags.
It is in such cases that focus and super-specialisation plays a key role. The right person to visit is a proctologist – colorectal surgeon, one who not only treat piles, fissures, and fistula, but also has the expertise and experience to do a colonoscopy and a laparoscopy.
A colonoscopy is a screening procedure that enables the colorectal surgeon or gastroenterologist to look inside the large intestine (rectum and colon) for mushroom-like growth (polyps), abnormal areas, ulcers, depressions (diverticulae), lump (cancer), infection etc. If an abnormal growth is detected, a small piece of the area is taken and sent for microscopic diagnosis. This process is called biopsy, and it is not only for cancer, but also for other pathologies. So if your doctor says that he has taken a biopsy, please do not panic.
Depending on the diagnosis, the treatment can be as simple as diet management and lifestyle changes, along with a few medications. In more pronounced cases, surgery may be needed to solve the problem once and for all.
There is a misconception that rectal problems such as piles, fissures, and fistulas are incurable by modern day medicine and surgery. In fact, there are international protocols, set after extensive research and trials, of scientific treatments available across the world.
A casual attitude and overall negligence towards one’s health, especially while choosing one’s daily diet and indulging in active fitness habits, is the major reason behind the rise in colorectal disorders. Taking care of our wellness should be every individual’s personal priority. Balanced habits, regarding consuming fibrous and nutritious food, along with good fitness habits, is enough to bring the health of your intestine (and thereby, the whole body) back on track.