According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there are 60 to 70 million Americans affected by digestive diseases. These digestive conditions could range from constipation to diarrhea to hemorrhoids to something more serious, such as inflammatory bowel disease and GERD.
The common denominator: unhealthy colon. It seems less serious compared to cancer, but a toxic colon could be the reason for your sickness and oftentimes equates to poor overall health too.
Don’t worry. You can still reverse the situation. Here are 16 things you should know about toxic colon including warning signs, possible complications, and tips to keep your colon healthy.
1. Up Close and Personal With the Human Colon
Before anything else, you need to get to know the star of the show: your colon.
Also known as the large intestine, colon is an important part of your digestive system. It is so important that it is also often called as the sewer system of your body.
What’s with your colon?
When you eat, the bulk of the food goes to your colon. The colon lining has sensitive nerves and glands that help in the absorption of food, especially the vitamins, water, and enzymes. During the course of the day, your colon will also eliminate unhealthy, unwanted substances in the waste area of your body in the form of bowel movement.
There is no “normal” number of bowel movements since it varies from person-to-person. However, experts recommend one to two bowel movements per day to facilitate the removal of wastes inside your body. Otherwise, the next section will tell you what happens if wastes and toxic remain inside.
2. Toxic Overload: Effects of Toxins Inside Your Body
From the name itself, you know that toxic sounds bad and harmful. What more when you have it inside your body?
What happens if your colon is covered with fecal matter and toxins? Here’s what:
- Restriction in the absorption of vitamins and essential nutrients.
- Dehydration and auto intoxication brought by water within the colon that cannot be filtered back into your bloodstream.
- Low energy, fatigue and muscle weakness.
- Poor sleeping habits.
- Unexplained weight gain.
- Could contribute to medical conditions due to the presence of bacteria and parasites.
In other words, it leads to toxic colon, which you will learn more about in the next section.
3. A Glimpse of the What, Why and How of Toxic Colon
Toxic colon, toxic megacolon, or whatever you want to call it. This condition is the abnormal dilation or widening of your large intestine that could develop within a few days. Although rare, toxic colon is considered a life-threatening condition of other intestinal complications.
Toxic colon could lead to digestive conditions like:
- Chronic constipation
- Diverticular disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Chron’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS
You might be wondering what causes this condition or of there is a way to prevent it. The succeeding sections will tell you more about it.
4. Going Down the Road Towards Toxic Colon
You know that the colon is responsible for dissecting which food goes where. This means when it signals something that could harm your body, it quickly eliminates it and causes you to poop. However, poor diet, high levels of stress, and unhealthy lifestyle could cause your colon’s ability to deteriorate.
What happens next?
When your colon is less active, your body is not able to eliminate waste materials effectively. These waste materials deposit along your colon wall and stays in there for days. You can still get rid of them through hydration and increasing your fiber intake.
However, there are cases when these waste deposits don’t exit your body and stay in there for months or even years. The toxins in your body accumulate and can be up to three inches thick and as hard as tire rubber. This contributes to various digestive issues mentioned above.
Here is the surprising part: did you know that toxic colon could pave way to other illnesses outside your digestive system? Keep reading to find out how toxic colon affects your entire body.
5. Going Beyond The Digestive System: Other Effects of Waste Buildup In Your Health
Yes, you read that right. Apparently, the effects of toxic colon extend outside your digestive system. Believe it or not, it could affect your overall health and youth. This is the reason why many experts advocate healthy, normal, and working colon to help you maintain your weight.
The question is how else could this condition affect your health? Here’s how:
- Causes skin blemishes, wrinkles, paleness and liver spots due to lack of hydration.
- Weakens your muscles.
- Irritates your lungs.
- Pain and stiffness in your joints that could lead to arthritis.
- Disturbs your brain and overall mental function.
- Weakens your heart.
- Leads to premature aging.
In other words, toxic colon not only messes up your digestive health but also your overall health.
6. Get to Know the Bad Guy: The Causes of Toxic Megacolon
Do you want to know the root cause of toxic colon? It goes by the name inflammatory bowel diseases or IBDs. This includes:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Chron’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
IBD causes irritation and swelling in certain parts of your digestive tract. This could lead to pain and eventually permanently damage your small and large intestine. This causes your colon to dilate, expand, and distend, making this particular organ unable to remove gas and feces from your body. Once these waste materials build up in your colon, it could even rupture your large intestine.
This is what makes toxic colon a life-threatening condition. If your intestine ruptures, the bacteria present inside your intestine could go to your abdomen and cause serious infection. In worst cases, this could even lead to death.
Aside from this, other risk factors are:
- History of organ transplant
- Kidney failure
- Suppressed immunity
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
7. Say Hello to the Obvious Sign of Toxic Colon
When you hear the term “dehydration,” what often comes to your mind? You think a traveler trapped in a desert with no water with him or a condition resulting from lack of water intake. These are both true.
Apparently, things are different when you have a toxic colon.
In normal situations, once you drink water, your colon leads it to your bloodstream for proper distribution. This helps maintain hydration in your body, which often shows in your skin. On the other hand, toxic colon means water is trapped in the colon.
What happens next?
Since water is trapped in your colon, your bloodstream is unable to reabsorb it for proper distribution. The culprit here is the waste buildup in your colon’s walls, making it difficult for water to escape. This limits the hydration your body needs, hence dehydration.
This doesn’t end here. Dehydration could pave way to other digestive issues and often comes with backup that will tell you that your colon is in a toxic state. Check out the next sections to know more about the other red flags.
8. Common Signs and Symptoms That Tells You Your Colon Is In Toxic State
Now that you know the role of the colon and the possible scenarios that could happen if you are not too careful, it’s time to get to know the things you might experience just in case you have this condition.
You are already acquainted with dehydration, a common sign of toxic colon. However, hydration itself does not automatically signify the buildup of waste materials inside your body. There are other common signs and symptoms involved, which include the following:
- Distention or bloating of the abdomen.
- Abdominal pain and tenderness.
- Rapid heart rate or tachycardia.
- Painful bowel movement.
- Constipation with stools that are large, hard, and difficult to pass.
- Diarrhea, wherein your stools have watery consistency and at times bloody.
- Unexplained weight gain despite eating a normal, balanced diet.
Keep in mind that toxic colon is a life-threatening condition. If you experience any of these symptoms, make sure to seek medical health as soon as you can. This way, your doctor can check the level of toxicity inside your body and remedy the situation.
Here’s the thing: there are some signs that signify toxic colon without you realizing it. The next section will tell you about the other red flags so make sure to keep reading.
9. Watch Out: Other Red Flags That Signify Colon Toxicity
There are other warning signs that tell colon toxicity. However, you won’t notice since most of these symptoms are often not related to digestion. This includes:
- Sluggishness, anxiety, or fatigue.
- Body issues like body odor and bad breath.
- Mental issues such as depression or forgetfulness.
- Sinus problems.
- Sensitivity to light and noise.
- High or low blood pressure.
- Skin and hair issues like wrinkles.
- Bladder infections.
- Hormonal imbalances.
- Back and leg pain.
- Burning sensations in your eyes, face, hands, or feet.
- Kidney or liver disorder.
- Acid reflux.
- Increased irritability.
- Fertility problems.
If you experienced any of these symptoms together with the other common signs of toxic colon, then it could be a sign of something serious. This is why it is crucial that you schedule that trip to the doctor for proper diagnosis.
Still, admit it. You are hesitant to schedule a trip out of fear or embarrassment. However, the next section will tell you when you need to see a doctor immediately.
10. An Emergency Situation: Instances You Should See a Health Care Provider
Unsure whether to head down to the emergency room or call 911? If you experienced severe stomach pain, then you should consider driving yourself to the emergency room. However, severe stomach pain plus the symptoms below will tell you that you need medical attention – fast:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Frequent diarrhea
- Rapid heart rate
- Swelling in your belly
- Signs of shock such as dilated eyes, weak pulse, confusion, cool or clammy skin, and rapid or shallow breathing
Don’t underestimate these symptoms. Toxic colon is a serious matter that requires medical attention.
11. A Trip to the Doctor For Proper Diagnosis
Let’s say you experience common symptoms associated with toxic colon. However, you are unsure since there are other signs not related to your stomach.
Instead of Google-ing your way out, the best you can do is to schedule that trip to the doctor for diagnosis. Once you are there, your doctor will perform the following procedures to determine if there is toxic megacolon or not:
- Physical exam by checking if your abdomen is tender and listening to bowel sounds through a stethoscope. This could already reveal signs of septic shock.
- Ask about health history, including whether you have inflammatory bowel diseases
- Abdominal x-ray
- CT scan of your abdomen
- Blood test including CBC or complete blood count and blood electrolytes
These tests will help determine whether or not toxic colon is haunting your body.
12. Colon Toxic Gone Bad: The Effects if Left Untreated
You know that toxic colon on its face is dangerous and a serious medical issue that needs immediate treatment. What happens if you failed to get the appropriate treatment?
Aside from the rupture of the intestines, the following could happen due to untreated toxic colon:
- Shock, another life-threatening condition brought by lack of blood flow.
- Perforation or abnormal hole in the colon that makes it easier for bacteria to spread in your body.
- Bleeding and blood loss.
- Sepsis or infection of the whole body.
The bottom line is toxic colon could be deadly especially if not treated early. The concern now is this: is there an appropriate treatment for this condition? Read the succeeding sections to find, plus prevention tips to keep in mind to avoid toxic colon.
13. Saying Goodbye to Toxic Colon: Initial Treatment for this Digestive Condition
Here’s some good news for you: there is a way to reverse the situation and get your health back. This is why it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible if you notice any changes in your bowel movement or experience any of the symptoms mentioned.
The treatment of toxic colon is centered on three main goals:
- Reduce colonic distention to prevent further damage or perforation.
- Correct any fluid and electrolyte imbalances.
- Treat the toxic, waste materials, and other precipitating factors.
Your Initial Treatment
There are the initial steps your doctor will recommend as soon as you both discovered you have a toxic colon:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines to control inflammation.
- Antibiotics to treat or prevent any occurring infection.
- Bowel rest and decompression to remove any gas and substances that fill your colon.
- IV fluids and electrolytes to help nourish your body and at the same time, prevent dehydration.
Here’s the truth: going through these initial treatments doesn’t mean you are cleared. There may be improvement in your digestive area, but there is still one more step to ensure that toxic colon won’t bother you anymore. Keep reading to know what this “one more step” is all about.
14. Colectomy: Your “One More Step” Against Toxic Colon
The initial treatments prescribed and performed by your doctor could help minimize the symptoms of toxic colon and avoid the worsening of this condition. However, these treatments could not reverse the damage done.
This is where colectomy comes in.
Also known as bowel resection, colectomy is a type of surgical procedure that removes all or part of your colon, depending on the size or extent of damage. Regardless of the severity of your condition, going through this type of surgical procedure is crucial to reduce the size of the toxic and waste buildup inside your colon.
There are four types:
- Total – Removes the entire colon.
- Partial – Only removes part of the colon that was already damaged.
- Hemicolectomy – Gets rid of the right or left portion of your colon.
- Proctocolectomy – This removes both your colon and rectum.
The Colectomy Procedure
There are two ways to do this:
- Open Colectomy – This involves making a longer incision in your abdomen to access the colon. Your surgeon also uses various surgical tools to free your colon from the tissues surrounding it. At the same time, your surgeon cuts out either a portion or the entire colon, depending on the damage.
- Laparascopic Colectomy – This is minimally invasive procedure wherein your surgeon makes several small incisions in your abdomen. Your surgeon also inserts a camera and other surgical tools through various incisions. Then, the surgeon brings out your colon through a small incision in your abdomen and operates on it outside your body then reinserts it through the incision.
What happens after?
- The surgeon will rejoin the remaining portions of your colon through stitching. This is called anastomosis.
- Your surgeon attaches the remaining colon to an opening created in your abdomen. This area allows waste to leave your body through the stoma or the opening.
- A portion of your small intestine will be used to create a pouch to be attached to your anus. The purpose of this is to allow your body to get rid of waste normally.
Sounds complicated, don’t you think? There is a simpler version. Keep reading to learn about various preventive techniques against toxic colon.
15. Say Hello to the Most Powerful Natural Antibiotic for Your Gut
There are tons of pills available to prevent inflammation and minimize toxic inside your colon. However, you don’t need to look further and spend hundreds of dollars on antibiotics. All you have to do is to open your kitchen pantry and you will see the most powerful antibiotic for your gut.
Say hello to garlic.
Garlic acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation. At the same time, it helps cleanse your colon to improve your digestion, enables easy absorption of nutrients, and eliminates waste materials and toxins inside your body. More importantly, garlic contains allicin, one of the active principles of garlic that is responsible for antimicrobial activities.
You can always buy garlic supplements with at least 1.3 percent allicin content from health food stores. You can also try garlic oil and add it on sauces, stews, or as a salad dressing. However, the best way to enjoy garlic’s benefits is to eat it raw. Peel and mince two to four cloves of garlic and add it to your favorite food. You can also mix it with raw honey and swallow as tincture.
Regardless of how you take it, garlic will surely help cleanse your colon.
16. Prevention Tips to Remember to Avoid Colon Toxicity
More importantly, how you treat your body prior to toxic colon situation will define your risk of developing this condition. Therefore, check out these preventive tips to avoid colon toxicity and keep your colon healthy:
- Stay away from processed red meat.
- Limit your red meat consumption to two- to four-ounce servings per week.
- Increase your fiber intake such as bananas, broccoli, and berries since it is good not just for your colon but also for your overall intestinal health.
- Always go for whole grains like quinoa, barley, brown rice, and whole wheat flour.
- Include colon screening as part of your priority.
- Increase your water intake to keep your skin and body well hydrated.
- Treat existing inflammatory bowel diseases to reduce your risk of toxic colon.
The Bottom Line
Toxic colon is a serious medical condition. You may not notice it easily but this could be the reason why your health is deteriorating. Before it gets worse, remember these 16 tidbits about toxic colon to help you identify your health condition.
More importantly, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor if you notice or feel something unusual. Toxic colon could be deadly if left untreated.