Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for October, 2006

Painful spasms of colon

Colitis. Sometimes named irritable colon, colitis is a very common disease intimately associated with the nervous system. Its main characteristic is frequent painful spasms of the colon along with periods of diarrhea and constipation. There is no definite cause of colitis but its beginning appears to involve emotional factors concerned with disappointments in life greater than one can stand. A person afflicted with colitis is said to be “speaking with his colon” when he cannot speak with words.

Relief from colitis is frequently obtained when the state of tension or nerves is properly treated. This is best accomplished by a person schooled in the ways of psychological lessening of fears and tensions. Occasionally a difficulty thought to be colitis is found to be caused by foods, drugs or allergies of unsuspected sources. Fortunately, these cases mistaken for colitis are completely cured with dietary restrictions regarding foods or avoidance of particular drugs.

Diverticulitis. Diverticulitis, sometimes called left-handed ap-

Fig. 90. Diverticulitis is caused by inflamed out-pockets which become sore and resemble appendicitis. It is found in 1 out of 20 adults and frequently causes bleeding found in the bowel movement.

pendicitis, is distinctly a disease of the later age group. It is an inflammation of the many appendix-like outpockets in the colon, which occur in about five percent of all people over the age of forty and like the appendix, these outpockets become inflammed and a source of severe pain and bleeding. It is usually the constipated, obese and older person who has most difficulty with this disease, because the number of diverticulae present in the colon increases with age.

The irritation in these diverticulae is thought to originate with seeds or other small particles in the fecal material. Prevention of diverticulitis then embraces a diet which eliminates seeds, bones, nuts and other sharp articles which can easily lodge within these outpockets and start trouble. In severe cases of diverticulitis, surgery may become necessary to remove the segment of colon seriously inflammed. This disease frequently is suspected to be cancer of the colon and necessitates a close investigation by a physician to make the correct diagnosis.

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Diagnosing Appendicitis

Appendicitis may be most difficult to diagnose, even for the expert physician, and no one should attempt to make this diagnosis on himself, not even a doctor. Everyone, however, should include some information about a typical appendicitis picture, because over 2,000 deaths a year in the U. S. might be prevented if only the possibility of appendicitis were considered in time.

The usual story of appendicitis might begin with vague nausea, progressing gradually to vomiting. Moderate pain is felt all over the abdomen at first but it gradually localizes low in the right side. A soreness in the appendical region along with fever and possible bloating help to complete the picture. The whole process may begin and grow to obvious proportions in six to twenty-four hours.

In contrast to this usual story of appendicitis, is the atypical course of the disease in later years. The patient with a severe attack of appendicitis, may appear to be only slightly ill for the first several days. Nausea, if present, frequently does not progress to vomiting. Pain in the abdomen might be only a slight discomfort, and may not localize into the lower right side of the abdomen. Temperature usually is not elevated in proportion to the seriousness of the disease.

This picture might easily be more complicated by the presence of other chronic disease symptoms, such as constipation, arteriosclerosis or gall bladder disease. This explanation helps us to understand why appendicitis in later life is more dangerous, and that after the age of fifty, abdominal pain should not be “taken like a man,” but handled more wisely by calling the family physician.

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