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Champion HHC Health Information Library

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Colonic Polyps

A polyp is an extra piece of tissue that grows inside your body. Colonic polyps grow in the large intestine, or colon. Most polyps are not dangerous. However, some polyps may turn into cancer or already be cancer. To be safe, doctors remove polyps and test them. Polyps can be removed when a doctor examines the inside of the large intestine during a colonoscopy.

Anyone can get polyps, but certain people are more likely than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if you :

  • Are over age 50
  • Have had polyps before
  • Have a family member with polyps
  • Have a family history of colon cancer

Most colon polyps do not cause symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include blood on your underwear or on toilet paper after a bowel movement, blood in your stool, or constipation or diarrhea lasting more than a week.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are procedures that let your doctor look inside your large intestine. They use instruments called scopes. Scopes have a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube. The procedures let your doctor see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers.

Colonoscopy checks your entire colon and rectum. Sigmoidoscopy checks the rectum and the lower colon only.

Your doctor may recommend one of these procedures:

  • To look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It may be part of a routine screening, which usually starts at age 50.
  • To look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits
  • To evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss

Your doctor can also remove polyps from your colon during these procedures.

You will get written bowel prep instructions to follow at home before the procedure. The bowel prep cleans out the intestine so your doctor can see everything clearly. During a colonoscopy, you get medicines to keep you relaxed. You usually do not need them for a sigmoidoscopy.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Constipation

Constipation means that a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week. The stool can be hard and dry. Sometimes it is painful to pass. At one time or another, almost everyone gets constipated. In most cases, it lasts a short time and is not serious.

There are many things you can do to prevent constipation. They include

  • Eating more fruits, vegetables and grains, which are high in fiber
  • Drinking plenty of water and other liquids
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Taking time to have a bowel movement when you need to
  • Using laxatives only if your doctor says you should
  • Asking your doctor if medicines you take may cause constipation

It's not important that you have a bowel movement every day. If your bowel habits change, however, check with your doctor.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are caused by pressure or friction on your skin. They often appear on feet where the bony parts of your feet rub against your shoes. Corns usually appear on the tops or sides of toes while calluses form on the soles of feet. Calluses also can appear on hands or other areas that are rubbed or pressed.

Wearing shoes that fit better or using non-medicated pads may help. While bathing, gently rub the corn or callus with a washcloth or pumice stone to help reduce the size. To avoid infection, do not try to shave off the corn or callus. See your doctor, especially if you have diabetes or circulation problems.

NIH: National Institute on Aging

Crohn's Disease

What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn's disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in your digestive tract. It can affect any part of your digestive tract, which runs from your mouth to your anus. But it usually affects your small intestine and the beginning of your large intestine.

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis are other common types of IBD.

What causes Crohn's disease?

The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. Researchers think that an autoimmune reaction may be one cause. An autoimmune reaction happens when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body. Genetics may also play a role, since Crohn's disease can run in families.

Stress and eating certain foods don't cause the disease, but they can make your symptoms worse.

Who is at risk for Crohn's disease?

There are certain factors which can raise your risk of Crohn's disease:

  • Family history of the disease. Having a parent, child, or sibling with the disease puts you at higher risk.
  • Smoking. This may double your risk of developing Crohn's disease.
  • Certain medicines, such as antibiotics, birth-control pills, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These may slightly increase your chance of developing Crohn's.
  • A high-fat diet. This may also slightly increase your risk of Crohn's.
What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?

The symptoms of Crohn's disease can vary, depending where and how severe your inflammation is. The most common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping and pain in your abdomen
  • Weight loss

Some other possible symptoms are:

  • Anemia, a condition in which you have fewer red blood cells than normal
  • Eye redness or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain or soreness
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin

Stress and eating certain foods such as carbonated drinks and high-fiber foods may make some people's symptoms worse.

What other problems can Crohn's disease cause?

Crohn's disease can cause other problems, including:

  • Intestinal obstruction, a blockage in the intestine
  • Fistulas, abnormal connections between two parts inside of the body
  • Abscesses, pus-filled pockets of infection
  • Anal fissures, small tears in your anus that may cause itching, pain, or bleeding
  • Ulcers, open sores in your mouth, intestines, anus, or perineum
  • Malnutrition, when your body does not get the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs
  • Inflammation in other areas of your body, such as your joints, eyes, and skin
How is Crohn's disease diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
  • A family history
  • A physical exam, including
    • Checking for bloating in your abdomen
    • Listening to sounds within your abdomen using a stethoscope
    • Tapping on your abdomen to check for tenderness and pain and to see if your liver or spleen is abnormal or enlarged
  • Various tests, including
    • Blood and stool tests
    • A colonoscopy
    • An upper GI endoscopy, a procedure in which your provider uses a scope to look inside your mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine
    • Diagnostic imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an upper GI series. An upper GI series uses a special liquid called barium and x-rays. Drinking the barium will make your upper GI tract more visible on an x-ray.
What are the treatments for Crohn's disease?

There is no cure for Crohn's disease, but treatments can decrease the inflammation in your intestines, relieve symptoms, and prevent complications. Treatments include medicines, bowel rest, and surgery. No single treatment works for everyone. You and your health care provider can work together to figure out which treatment is best for you:

  • Medicines for Crohn's include various medicines that decrease the inflammation. Some of these medicines do this by reducing the activity of your immune system. Medicines can also help with symptoms or complications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-diarrheal medicines. If your Crohn's causes an infection, you may need antibiotics.
  • Bowel rest involves drinking only certain liquids or not eating or drinking anything. This allows your intestines to rest. You may need to do this if your Crohn's disease symptoms are severe. You get your nutrients through drinking a liquid, a feeding tube, or an intravenous (IV) tube. You may need to do bowel rest in the hospital, or you may be able to do it at home. It will last for a few days or up to several weeks.
  • Surgery can treat complications and reduce symptoms when other treatments are not helping enough. The surgery will involve removing a damaged part of your digestive tract to treat
    • Fistulas
    • Bleeding that is life threatening
    • Intestinal obstructions
    • Side effects from medicines when they threaten your health
    • Symptoms when medicines do not improve your condition

Changing your diet can help reduce symptoms. Your provider may recommend that you make changes to your diet, such as:

  • Avoiding carbonated drinks
  • Avoiding popcorn, vegetable skins, nuts, and other high-fiber foods
  • Drinking more liquids
  • Eating smaller meals more often
  • Keeping a food diary to help identify foods that cause problems

Some people also need go on special diet, such as a low-fiber diet.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases