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Colon Spasms: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & More In 2023
Colon spasms occur when the colon muscles contract involuntarily. While occasional spasms are typically nothing to worry about, persistent or severe spasms can lead to discomfort and digestive issues. These spasms may be triggered by various factors such as stress, dietary changes, or certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease.
Understanding the root cause of colon spasms is essential in managing and alleviating symptoms. Probiotics have shown promise in potentially reducing colon spasms. These live microorganisms help maintain a healthy gut flora balance, promoting smoother digestion and reducing the frequency and intensity of cramps. Lactose intolerance leading to colon spasms may be relieved by the enzyme lactase.
Understanding colon spasms allows you to improve your gut health and overall well-being proactively. Let’s dive deeper into the topic and examine colon spasms’ causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What Are Colon Spasms?
Colon spasms are involuntary contractions of the colon’s muscles that cause symptoms of discomfort and pain. They can be associated with health conditions like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic spasms affect bowel habits and may impact everyday life.
During a spasm, the muscles contract rapidly, leading to sudden changes in bowel movements. Seeking immediate medical attention is essential if colon spasms persist or interfere with daily life.
What Do Colon Spasms Feel Like?
Many wonder what does a colon spasm feel like? Colon spasms are sudden and spontaneous muscle contractions in the large intestine. When these muscle contractions occur, they can interfere with natural bowel movements.
The colon is a long tube that’s lined with muscles. Food reaches the end of the digestive process in the colon as it’s slowly condensed into feces. The muscles lining the colon help excrete feces from the body through bowel movements.
Colon spasms are not a condition but rather a symptom. They can be a temporary reaction to something you ate, but they are also related to some chronic gastrointestinal disorders. Colon spasms can cause discomfort and disruption to digestive health.
Since causes and severity vary from patient to patient, individuals experiencing colon spasms may describe a range of sensations. Many patients report feeling bloated, cramping, and abdominal pain. Colon pain in the left side typically indicates spasms may occur. Some individuals may experience colon spasms at night, disrupting their sleep and adding to overall discomfort.
Spasms occasionally annoy some patients, but they may be more persistent and debilitating for others.
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Colon Spasms Symptoms
If experiencing persistent or severe colon spasms, seeking medical attention to identify and address any underlying conditions is crucial. Keeping track of symptoms and discussing them with a healthcare professional can lead to an accurate diagnosis. Ultimately, this ensures you get the right treatment plan to regain control over your digestive well-being.
Although the severity and frequency of symptoms vary, you may experience the following colon spasms:
Intermittent or persistent cramping sensations in the abdominal area are classic symptoms of colon spasms. Colon pain location can vary, and spasms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.
Some spasms may cause your colon to hold back stool rather than move it forward. Chronic constipation is a primary symptom of irritable bowel syndrome, a common cause of spastic colon.
Individuals experiencing colon spasms may feel bloated or gassy due to the buildup of trapped air in the colon. Bloating is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems, a frequent complaint of individuals of all ages.
Sudden Urge To Have A Bowel Movement
Colon spasms can trigger a sudden and urgent need to use the bathroom. Instead of holding stool back, spasms can also do the opposite, thrusting it forward and causing fecal incontinence. Since fecal incontinence is a chronic and debilitating condition, it typically impacts the quality of life.
Many spasms disrupt the digestive process, forcing stool out before it has the time to condense. This typically causes loose stool and diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea is a type of IBS in which patients experience chronic loose or frequent bowel movements.
Feeling Of Incomplete Evacuation
Some patients may experience a sensation that they haven’t fully emptied their bowels due to spasms disrupting regular muscle movements.
Pain associated with spasms can vary. You may experience colon pain on the right side, left side or radiating to the lower back.
What Causes Colon Spasms
Before you learn how to eliminate colon spasms, you must understand the common causes. Colon spasms causes include:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The most common cause of colon spasms is irritable bowel syndrome. Colon spasms and irritable bowel syndrome are so closely related that spastic colon has become another term for IBS. The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve abnormalities in the gut-brain interaction and intestinal sensitivities. These abnormalities can lead to heightened muscle contractions in the colon, resulting in a spastic colon.
If you suspect you have IBS or are experiencing persistent colon spasms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and inflammatory bowel disease can be underlying causes of colon spasms. These chronic conditions involve inflammation and damage to the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the colon’s lining. The inflammation can lead to the development of scar tissue and ulcerations, which can trigger muscle spasms.
Additionally, inflammation can impact your gut health, increasing sensitivity and exaggerated muscle contractions. Common treatments for IBD include anti-inflammatory medications and immunomodulators.
Food Allergies Or Intolerances
Food intolerance or allergies can also trigger colon spasms, leading to uncomfortable colon pain symptoms. Lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and sensitivity to certain FODMAPs in foods are common culprits. The complex symptoms of these diseases can be similar to intestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. When these foods are ingested, they trigger the release of substances that lead to colon muscle contractions.
Since the symptoms of IBS can be induced by acute gastrointestinal infection, local infections can cause a spastic colon. Even months and years after an acute gastrointestinal illness, IBS patients can experience mild chronic inflammation that leads to IBS symptoms.
Although endometriosis is a health disorder impacting the reproductive system, it affects the bowels in 3%-37% of cases. Pelvic pain, constipation, diarrhea, and colon spasms may occur due to bowel endometriosis.
Psychological Or Emotional Factors
The nervous system links our gut to the brain. Studies show that IBS is associated with significant psychological distress, like anxiety or depression. When you experience emotional stress, it can contribute to spasms as your gut perceives something is wrong.
How To Get Rid Of Colon Spasms
Now that you know what causes colon spasms, it’s time to look at how to treat them. Colon spasms treatment includes:
- Medications: Some healthcare professionals will prescribe medications if severe or persistent colon spasms impact your quality of life. Antispasmodic drugs can help relax the colon muscles, temporarily relieving spasm symptoms.
- Dietary Modifications: Maintaining a well-balanced diet with adequate fiber intake can reduce spastic colon symptoms. Identify and avoid trigger foods. Focus on superfoods and gut-healing foods that offer the vitamins and minerals your body needs for overall health and well-being. A diet low in fermentable carbohydrates may also help, known as the low oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide, and polyol diet or low-FODMAP. Low-FODMAP diets inhibit the release of histamine known for causing allergic symptoms.
- Stress Management: Stress and anxiety can exacerbate the spastic colon. Implement stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga to reduce symptoms.
- Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is essential for maintaining healthy bowel habits and preventing dehydration, which may worsen colon spasms. This means drinking 2-3.7 liters of water daily.
- Probiotics: Incorporating fermented or probiotic foods into your diet can promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, potentially easing spasms.
- Supplements: Fiber supplements can help soften stool and promote a regular bowel movement. Digestive enzymes can help break down food, reducing strain on the digestive system. This can aid the digestion of certain foods that may trigger colon spasms. Talk to your healthcare provider about what supplements can help relieve your specific symptoms. Peppermint oil has also shown promise in reducing colonic spasms.
- Lifestyle Changes: Engaging in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can support overall digestive health and help manage symptoms.
Remember that treatment of colon spasms should be individualized based on the causes and severity of your symptoms. Consult with a gastroenterologist or registered dietitian to create a comprehensive treatment plan that helps manage your colon spasms effectively.
Colon spasms can be a distressing and uncomfortable symptom, impacting your digestive health, quality of life, and overall well-being. Identifying the underlying cause is crucial for effective symptom management. Treatment options are available for relief, from lifestyle changes and stress reduction to dietary modifications and medication. By taking proactive steps to prioritize your gut health, you can minimize colon spasms and achieve an improved quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, colon spasms are not considered normal. They may indicate an underlying issue requiring a healthcare professional’s evaluation and treatment.
The duration of spasms can vary depending on the individual, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes.
Spastic colon alone is not necessarily a sign of cancer, but persistent and severe spasms warrant medical evaluation. This can help rule out underlying conditions, including colorectal cancer.
Colon spasms may go away independently, but persistent or severe spasms require medical attention for appropriate treatment.
Stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet with fiber, and try warm compresses on the abdomen to relieve poop cramps.
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