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Six ways to reduce your risk of having colon pain

The colon is one of those parts of the body that we seldom think about since it seems to do its job so efficiently. If stretched out, the colon is about five feet long and is lined with about 100 trillion microbes that help the body get rid of excess waste. It takes between 12 and 48 hours for food to make its way through the colon which is why it is never really empty. However, the colon is prone to inflammation which can lead to pain.

The most common causes of colon pain are inflammatory bowel diseases. These conditions are usually triggered by an improper diet, excess stress, an inactive lifestyle or too many medications. Some of the most common inflammatory bowel diseases are ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer. Many of these diseases can be treated and controlled but they are chronic conditions that need careful attention. The best plan is to take steps to keep the colon healthy and lower the risk of developing these diseases. Here are six ways to reduce the chances of having colon pain.

Monitor your diet

There are certain foods that can contribute to inflammation in the colon. Red meat, fried foods, refined sugar and carbohydrates, alcohol and coffee can all contribute to inflammation. Not every person is sensitive to all of these foods but if you are feeling pain, try limiting these foods to see if the pain is reduced. Then adjust your diet to control or exclude the foods that trigger inflammation.

Increase fiber

Dietary fiber is important for the process of waste elimination. When there is not enough fiber in the diet, stools can become very hard and painful. The colon has to strain to remove the waste. This extra pressure can increase the risk of developing further health complications including hernias, hemorrhoids, varicose veins and high blood pressure. Good sources of fiber include bran, cereal, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. So instead of having your sandwich on white bread, choose whole wheat bread. Avoid donuts and sweet rolls at breakfast and have a bowl of cereal. When you need a quick snack, choose an apple instead of a candy bar. Consciously adding fiber can made a difference in your colon health.

Make water a priority

If your body is not getting enough water, stools can become very hard, which leads to painful bowel movements. The colon absorbs about a quart of water each day so if you are dehydrated, there is not enough water for the process to run smoothly. Set a goal to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. If you are active or outside on a hot day, this amount may need to be increased.

Keep moving

One of the triggers for colon pain is a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting at your desk or in front of the television for hours in a row can aggravate the colon. Set a goal of getting up to move at least once an hour and maintain some form of daily exercise. Exercise can be as simple as taking a walk and is a very important part of overall health as well as colon health.

Manage stress

The saying “butterflies in your stomach” describes the connection between your brain and your digestive system. When stress is excessive, the colon may not function correctly and can cause painful spasms. The way food moves through the colon can be affected resulting in constipation or diarrhea. Find a way to reduce stress that works for you. Taking a walk, practicing meditation or deep breathing are just some stress relievers that can reduce this destructive force.

Check your medications

If you are having colon pain, it might be wise to review your daily medication intake with your doctor. Non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen can affect the intestinal lining and cause inflammation over time. Your doctor can suggest alternative medications if these are causing colon issues.

When the pain won’t stop

For some people, colon pain becomes uncontrollable and surgery to correct issues is the best option. Most colorectal surgery requires a careful time of recovery to be successful. Many choose to recover in a short-term care facility to be sure all their needs are monitored and addressed as they arise.

One of the most effective and elegant choices for short-term care is Glenview Terrace, where a dedicated Colorectal Care program effectively addresses every facet of recovery, including therapy, nutrition, wound care and pain management. This program provides an interdisciplinary and patient-centered system of post-operative care designed for the best possible recovery. Under the direction of Advocate Lutheran General colorectal surgeons, each patient receives individualized care to meet specific needs in a safe setting with rigorous standards of infection control. This level of care can lead to fewer complications following surgery, a shorter length of stay, fewer readmissions and a successful recovery.

The Colorectal Care program at Glenview Terrace offers a seamless continuation of the patient’s surgical experience where doctor’s orders are carefully carried out. An ostomy care nurse trained in Advocate Lutheran General’s protocols is present to provide care as needed. Clinicians carefully monitor each patient’s diet so they receive the most nutritious foods while still following the dietary restrictions. Therapy is available seven days a week to help each patient regain strength. Finally, staff trained in evidence-based practices provide education for the patients so they can continue to improve after leaving Glenview Terrace.

Your stay at Glenview Terrace will be in an elegantly appointed room with thoughtful extras, such as morning coffee and newspaper delivery, as well as concierge services. When it’s time for compassionate and expert care, consider Glenview Terrace, where the goal is always to help get you back to the independent lifestyle you desire. For additional information or to arrange a tour, visit or call 847-729-9090.