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Intestinal Pain and Conditions

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The small and large intestines are in the lower part of the digestive tract and are where the major portion of nutrients are absorbed into the body. Some diseases and conditions impacting the intestines can be treated with medications and dietary modifications, but in certain cases, surgery to remove part of the intestines may be necessary.

WakeMed’s gastroenterologists have the expertise and training to accurately diagnose and treat the full spectrum of intestinal pain and conditions — whether it’s chronic constipation, acute intestinal pain or a condition that requires lifelong management.

What Are The Types of Intestinal Conditions?

Some of the intestinal conditions WakeMed gastroenterologists treat include:

  • Bowel obstruction: Also known as intestinal obstruction, a blockage that keeps food from passing through the intestines
  • Colon cancer: Cancer that starts in the large intestine
  • Constipation: Infrequent bowel movements that can last for weeks or longer
  • Crohn’s disease: A type of inflammatory bowel disease, which usually impacts either the small or large intestine
  • Diarrhea: Loose or liquid bowel movements
  • Diverticulitis: An inflammation or infection of one or more small pouches inside the colon, or large intestine
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding: Bleeding that can occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: An umbrella term, which includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: A common chronic condition of the large intestine that causes pain, cramping, diarrhea and constipation
  • Ulcerative colitis: Another type of inflammatory bowel disease, which impacts the colon or rectum, and is typically characterized by bloody stools, diarrhea, and pain. 

What Are The Symptoms of Intestinal Conditions?

If you have chronic intestinal pain or issues that don’t seem to be getting better, call your doctor. You should also make an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you’re experiencing symptoms including:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Severe intestinal pain, which may come and go
  • Bloody stools
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Severe tenderness in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas (this can indicate an obstruction)

How Do You Diagnose Intestinal Conditions?

Our gastroenterologists start by taking a detailed patient history and a review of symptoms. Tests we may use to diagnose intestinal conditions include:

  • Colonoscopy (sometimes referred to as a lower endoscopy) that looks at the inner lining of the colon to check for inflammation, polyps or cancer
  • Blood tests
  • Rectal exam
  • X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Capsule endoscopy (aka Pillcam)

How Do You Treat Intestinal Conditions?

Treatment varies depending on the specific intestinal condition. Some, like intestinal blockages, require immediate surgical attention. Inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis can usually be treated with prescription medication, but they may also require surgical intervention. Colon cancer requires an individualized approach to treatment.

Whenever possible, WakeMed offers minimally invasive and laparoscopic surgeries to treat intestinal disorders.

Lifestyle modifications can also be helpful for intestinal conditions, including:

  • Avoiding foods that seem to trigger symptoms
  • Drinking more water
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Many intestinal conditions can be impacted both positively and negatively by diet, and we offer our patients nutrition counseling to help them manage their conditions and make smart nutritional choices.

Make an Appointment

If you or someone you care for is experiencing worrisome symptoms, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our adult gastroenterologists, pediatric gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeons.