Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and co-travellers


Living / Health 4 Views comments

Bowel problems which may end up in cancer anywhere in the digestive tract appear to be in vogue. Many people, like a joke or child’s play, do not give them deserved attention until the doctor pronounces a frightening diagnosis. One of my high school classmates who was diagnosed with stomach ulcer turned out to have been suffering from cancer of the pancreas. He died. Lately, some people who complained of constipation actually had been experiencing intestinal blockages caused by inflammation or growths. Someone shared his good news with me this Monday (May13,2019). He had just gone through colonoscopy, an intestinal probe with a camera, which reported no ulcer, inflammation or  growth or hemorrhoids. But he still worried about on and off constipation and diarrhoea and pellet stool. My heart goes to a woman in Nasarawa State. For about two or three years now, her bowels have been problematic. They bloat with gas, give pain, do not agree to normally digest food unless they are forced with laxatives and, when they are, disabling diarrhoea may be the outcome for days. Another reader of this column has just been told by his doctor to prepare himself for a battle with colorectal cancer in the making which was originally thought to be internal hemorrhoids. The good news was reported of a bleeding colorectal which has only stopped bleeding but is giving way as well to a free flow of feaces. It is not possible here to mention all problems which the intestine may present. So, mention will be made of only a few ones which are common occurrences in this country, especially now, and how, through natural means, they may be offset or helped to heal better if the doctor has intervened. Some of these problems include irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), celiac disease, crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, candidiasis, parasitic and viral infections, constipation and diarrhoea, dysentery, stenosis, diverticulitis, polyps, colitis, hemorrhoids, ulcers, anal fissures and fistulas. The bowels To have a lay man’s understanding of some, if not all of these conditions, as many of us do not bother about challenges we do not encounter, it is necessary to have an idea of what the bowels look like and how they function. Many Nigerians who find themselves right in a doctor’s consulting room realise how ignorant or illiterate they are in these matters, despite their presumed education. They always allude all their problems to the “stomach”, even when these are in the liver, spleen or colon. The bowels go by different names in medicine. These include… Gastro-Intestinal (G.I) tract, GIT, alimentary canal or gut. It is the machinery into which the stomach empties the food we put into it through the mouth and throat. The GIT digests food, extracts and passes the nutrients into the bloodstream and eliminates the wastes and poisons out of the body through the  anus. But in reality, the GIT includes the mouth, oesophagus and stomach. Some authorities in this field like to include ancillary organs such as the salivary glands in the mouth, the tongue, the liver, and gall bladder. In autopsies, this tract has been found to sometimes be as long as nine metres or 30 ft long. But it is shorter when we are alive because of the contraction of its nerves and muscles which make for food passage downstream. In this tract, there may be as many as 4,000 strains of bacteria and trillions of microbes. Some of the bacteria are called ” friendly bacteria” because they help out in the digestive process or because they make life unbearable for unfriendly or enemy bacteria and help us to check their population from growing to such proportions as may make them become harmful to our health. In fact, many researchers inform us that as much as about 75 percent of our forces of immunity and their energy to fight germs and other dangerous elements is stationed or concentrated in the gastro-intestinal tract. Some of  the cells of the tract secrete hormones. Some others make digestive enzymes. On all sides of the tune are to be found hair like projections which help to drive food along uni-directionally towards the anus, even when we stand on our heads. Simultaneously nerves and smooth muscles contract and relax to aid this peristaltic or snake like movement. This automatic work, that is a function over which we have no conscious control, is powered by the AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM. Functions of the body over which we have conscious control, such as blinking or getting up from a chair, laughing, jumping or running are powered by the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM. This distinction is already showing us the directions to look if we have problems with  this system. Just one more point and we should be done with these jargons… The Autonomic Nervous system(ANS), which works automatically, ensuring, for example, that digestion of food goes on while we are asleep, is divided into two parts. It is like the human body which is provide...