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Small Bowel Problems And Treatments

What is the small bowel?

Your small intestine or the small bowel is the longest part of your digestive system - about twenty feet long! It connects your stomach to your large intestine (or colon) and folds many times to fit inside your abdomen.

Your small intestine does most of the digesting of the foods you eat. It has three areas called the duodenum, the ileum, and the jejunum.

What are the problems associated with the Small Bowel? Some of the common diseases/problems found in the Small Bowel includes:

1) Amyloidosis

A widely scattered multisystem disorder characterize by a deposit of protein-based material within various tissues that affects their functioning. Patients who are diagnosed with Amyloidosis suffers from weight loss and fatigue, joint pain, anemia, kidney problems and abnormal liver function.

Treatment: There are multiple procedures that one have to undergo such as chemotherapy, peripheral blood stem cell transplant and if it's associated with the kidney, dialysis or even kidney transplant.

Image source: Vitamin D Council

2) Celiac disease

Sensitivity to gluten (a component of wheat). Patients with this disorder show signs of malabsorption and may experience weight loss, gastric distention or diabetes. The digestive problems will be affected which was cause abdominal bloating, pain, gas etc) Some other problems includes musculosketeal problems such as muscle cramps, growth problems and seizures.

Treatment: There is no cure for celiac disease; the only treatment is a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease patients vary in their tolerance of gluten -- some patients can ingest small amounts of gluten without developing symptoms, while others experience massive diarrhea with only minute amounts of gluten. The standard treatment calls for complete avoidance of gluten for life.

3) Dysmotility

Disorder where the muscles of the digestive system become impaired leading to changes in the speed, strength or coordination in the stomach, small intestine and colon. The three main symptoms are diarrhea, constipation and malnutrition.

Treatment: A healthy lifestyle is the best prevention for intestinal motility disorders. A diet rich in fiber, especially insoluble fibers, cannot prevent colon cancer, but it may prevent constipation and impaction, its more severe complication.

4) Infections

Can be present for a number of years, ranging from being acute to chronic. Gastrointestinal infections can be broken up into three main types: intestinal, protozoal, and salmonella. Patients will experience diarrhea, bleeding, bloating, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Image source: Baby centre

Treatment: Since infections is often a secondary illness that occurs because the intestine has in some way been damaged by another disease, it is important to keep chronic diseases properly treated and under control as best as possible.

5) Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD is a group of disorders where the intestines become inflamed. These disorders affect more than 500,000 Americans and treatments can include dietary adjustments, different medications and surgery. Symptoms includes diarrhea,weight loss, fever, fatigues, and blood in your stool.

Treatment: Anti-inflammatory drugs are often the first step in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Other prevention includes keeping tracking of the food you eat. If you discover some foods are causing your symptoms to flare, you can try eliminating those foods. These include dairy products, low-fat foods, fiber and other problem foods such as spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine and avoid smoking at all cost.

6) Intestinal Lymphangiectasia

Affecting children and young adults, intestinal lymphangiectasia is an abnormality of the tubular system of channels that transports fats from the intestine to the liver and other organs. The symptoms are as the same as mentioned above.

Treatment: Sometimes, children are born with intestinal wall lymph vessels that are improperly formed, which causes blockage of the flow of lymph fluid and typically it happen to children before 3 years of age. Very occasionally surgical removal of the diseased portion of the intestine may be beneficial if the damage is limited to a local area. It is difficult to predict when someone would be born with this ailment and therefore, prevention is equally as difficult.

7) Intestinal lymphoma

A recognised complication of celiac sprue and can occur when the body's ability to fight infectious diseases is compromised or entirely absent. Some of the unusual symptoms includes blood mixed in the stools, jaundice, weakness and anemia.

Treatment: The first very treatment are through various therapies such as chemo therapy, biological therapy and radiation therapy. Stop using tobacco and use diets with low consumption of red meat, high in fruits and vegetables.

8) Lactose intolerance

Occurs when the body lacks the proper enzymes to break down lactose, a special type of sugar that is found in dairy products. Symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating and gas may occur.

Treatment: While it cannot be prevented, you can drink milk especially made for people with lactose intolerance or yogurt. Add calcium in your diet by adding sardines, almonds, sardines, broccoli and calcium supplements. You could also drink soy milk fortified with calcium.

9) A small bowel obstruction

Be it functional or mechanical, prevents or slows down the movement of food through your small intestine. It is a potentially dangerous condition that can seriously impact quality of life. The doctor will require you to go through a few procedures such as blood tests, X-rays or even biopsy.

Treatment: Placing and intravenous (IV) line into a vein your arm so that fluids can be given are one of the steps you will be receiving for the treatment. Follow a low fibre diet and chewing of the food well plays a part in the digestive system.

9) Tropical Sprue

A malabsorptive disorder characterized by abnormalities in the lining of the small intestine that may result in increased water loss as well as poor absorption of folic acid and salts.

Treatment: Useful therapeutic interventions involve antibiotics and replacement of nutrients deficient fluid, and sometimes blood. Preventive measures for visitors to tropical areas where the condition exists include steps to reduce the likelihood of gastroenteritis. These may comprise using only bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, and washing food, and avoiding fruits washed with tap water (or consuming only peeled fruits, such as bananas and oranges). Basic sanitation is necessary to reduce fecal-oral contamination and the impact of environmental enteropathy in the developing world.

10) Tumors

Tumors of the small intestine are rare but they either fall into the category of malignant or benign. They are usually single, but may be multiple depending on the syndrome.

Treatment: Treament option includes Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The common cause of Tumor are from smoking. Doctors may suggest surgery to remove the duodenum before cancer can develop.

11) Whipple's disease

A rare condition that prevents the small intestine from properly absorbing nutrients. This disorder can also affect the skin, joints, nervous system and heart.

Treatment: The health care provider prescribes antibiotics to destroy the T. whipplei bacteria and treat Whipple disease. Health care providers choose antibiotics that treat the infection in the small intestine and cross the blood-brain barrier—a layer of tissue around the brain.

Think you may a bowel problem? Get yourself check before it gets worse!

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