When it comes to bowel disorders there are many reasons why we suffer needlessly. First and foremost is that many disorders, like colitis, share symptoms with other illnesses like the flu and food poisoning. Then there is the issue of self-diagnosis, a recent phenomenon that only serves to exacerbate the problem and prolong treatment. There is a major difference between a simple upset stomach and a serious bowel disorder, but it is better to be safe and seek treatment than be sorry that you didn’t.
Specifically I want to focus on colitis because people often go for long periods of time without seeking treatment and that can lead to lifelong colon problems. The good news is that colitis isn’t so dangerous as to be life threatening, but the symptoms are uncomfortable and unpleasant that you’ll want to treat the colitis right away and prevent it when you can.
Before you can even begin to talk about treating or preventing colitis you need to know what it is, what it looks and feels like and the causes of colitis.
What Is Colitis?
Colitis is simply an inflammation of the colon, specifically of the inner lining of the colon. The colon is commonly referred to as the large intestine and it performs an important digestive function, namely it absorbs water into the food you consume and helps push it along before pushing it out of the body altogether. The colon is made up of several parts, any of which can be afflicted with the inflammation associated with colitis.
Causes of Colitis
There are many causes associated with the different types of colitis, but first we will tackle what Dr. Jensen pinpoints as a cause of colitis: psychological distress. It should come as no surprise that any type of emotional or psychological stress can manifest in a physical form. Stress can increase or decrease an appetite, cause insomnia, pain and a whole host of other physical problems.
While Dr. Jensen does concede that there may be dietary or genetic flaws that cause colitis, he contends that the disease is typically brought on by psychological stress.
Infectious colitis can occur as a result of a virus, bacteria or parasite. Due to problems such as salmonella or E. coli a bacteria may invade the large intestine and cause inflammation to occur. When the colon loses its blood supply, ischemic colitis can occur.
Whether you have an infection or a severe decrease in blood supply to the colon, inflammation can occur. Colitis is not an untreatable condition, but it will take some effort on your part. Whether it is your basic run-of-the-mill psychologically induced colitis or one with an underlying cause, you can work with your physician to make lifestyle changes that will reduce the inflammation.
Before you can even begin to get a diagnosis and seek treatment for bowel disorders such as colitis, you will need to identify the symptoms.
If you suffer from abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, fever and general sickness you may be suffering from colitis. These conditions may also be accompanied by a loss of appetite and corresponding weight loss. Other symptoms of colitis include dehydration, chills and lightheadedness.
The problem with self-diagnosis is that these symptoms, even a combination of them, are not necessarily a clear indicator that your colon is inflamed. This is a particularly important point to make because of the psychological factors that Dr. Jensen mentions. The more work you put toward treating what you think you have, the more stress you will experience when those treatments fail.
Treatment & Prevention
Now that you know what causes colitis and what it looks like, you can take steps to treat it or prevent it altogether.
Dr. Jensen points out that a peaceful and calm lifestyle can have a tremendous healing impact on the colon as well as other parts of the body. Even if you have an underlying problem such as an infection or ischemic colitis, the everyday stress of life can worsen the problem.
Consider the types of emotional distress you feel on a regular basis: angry, frustrated, depressed, tense, worried, obsessed, sad or just plain stressed out. Are you in a constant state of emotional distress? If so, making a transition to a more peaceful—and healthier—lifestyle will alleviate the pain and pressure in your abdominal area.
The best way to treat bowel disorders including colitis is to remove the thing causing the disorder. With colitis you want to remove stress from your life by any possible means. Along with the regimen recommended by your physician you should take up physical activity such as yoga or Pilates to help you relax and remain calm when life stresses you out.
Then there is your diet. It should come as no surprise that sugary foods, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods contribute to overall ill at ease. These foods speed up your heart rate, which makes you anxious. The caffeine and alcohol makes it hard to sleep, which contributes to crankiness, anxiety, frustration and tension. A healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables can help alleviate the symptoms of colitis, but Dr. Jensen recommends a liquid diet for those with ulcerative colitis because it may be the only way to get the nutrients the body needs to heal.
If you don’t have colitis, a healthy diet and peaceful life can help make sure you don’t ever get it.
Treating and preventing bowel disorders such as colitis require a proactive approach. While working with your physician, you will need to make appropriate lifestyle changes to help you stay calm, relaxed and happy.
Get started today with these helpful tips:
- Take 15 minutes (or more) each day to unwind without a television, phone, tablet or any other electronic devices to shake off the stress of the day.
- Increase your fruit and vegetable intake by replacing dessert and soft drinks with fresh raw fruit or vegetable smoothies.
- Practice deep yoga breathing when you feel negative emotions bubble up or threaten to overwhelm you.
- Add one item of fresh food to your diet every day this week.
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