Spastic colon is a common disorder of the bowel portion, which causes symptoms like, pain in the abdomen and irregular bowel movements. Popularly referred to as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it is associated with repeated contractions of the small and large intestinal muscles. Even though there is no cure, the condition can be combated with effective medication and dietary changes.
Causes and Symptoms
Several people are affected with this condition. For majority of the patients, the causes are attributed to infections in the colon and prolonged stress. Other factors that trigger the symptoms are poor diet, irregular eating habits, and consuming high amounts of processed foods. Based on the severity of the condition, manifested signs may vary from one patient to another.
The noticeable symptoms are lower abdominal discomfort, excess gas or bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and dizziness. Also, these symptoms may be recurrent or disappear after a few days. In most patients with this intestinal condition, either diarrhea or constipation is a predominant symptom. At times, an individual may experience alternating diarrhea and constipation.
Treatment and Medication
There is no particular diagnostic method for detecting this condition. Hence diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is done in the reverse way, by ruling out other health conditions that mimic spastic colon symptoms. For confirmation, the physician may conduct laboratory tests such as abdominal X-ray, blood test, rectal exam, colonoscopy, and urinalysis.
As per medical studies, there is no physiological damage in the bowel portion of a patient suffering from IBS. Thus, the treatment is mainly focused on reducing the associated symptoms. Effective treatment includes, changes in lifestyle (especially diet), proper stress management, and medications. The doctor may prescribe medicines depending upon the manifested symptoms, some of which are mentioned below.
Patients with recurrent diarrheal symptoms are recommended antidiarrheal medications for reducing the frequency of bowel movements. Frequently recommended drugs are, codeine, loperamide, and opioid medicines.
In order to ensure regular bowel movements in the patients, the doctor may prescribe laxatives like dulcolax, lubiprostone, milk of magnesia, senokot and correctol.
Stool softeners are more or less similar to laxatives, and help in loosening impacted and hardened stools. These medications help in retaining water in the stool, so as to make it easier for passing out.
This medication is for those, who have unbearable abdominal pain. Antispasmodic medicines for treating spastic colon are, atropine, hyoscyamine, and other drugs that are anticholinergic in action.
Since the symptoms are exacerbated with stress and depression, many doctors consider advocating antidepressant to be an effective choice for treating this condition.
The use of antispasmodic and antidepressant medications is debatable, as these formulations may worsen constipation. Besides the medication that we have discussed, the patient will be asked to follow a diet that contains high fiber, lots of fruits, and vegetables. Dietary fiber helps in regulating bowel movements without any side effects. Other self-care tips for getting relief are hot bath, and placing heating pads over the abdominal portion.