What are intestinal conditions?

Intestinal conditions comprise a number of different illnesses or abnormalities that affect the gastrointestinal tract. These include intestinal obstruction, structural abnormalities of the bowel, celiac disease, diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), infections, tumors, and irritable bowel syndrome.

The passage of food residue and waste products through the intestines can be interrupted or halted by the presence of a bowel obstruction. The cause of the obstruction can be mechanical, meaning that there is a physical blockage. Sources of mechanical obstruction include scar tissue, adhesions, foreign bodies, gallstones, tumors, fecal impaction, and volvulus (twisting of the intestines). Ileus, a malfunctioning of the bowel’s movements, is another type of obstruction.

Bowel problems may also occur as a result of problems during fetal development in the womb. For example, malrotation, or failure of the bowel to properly rotate in utero, can cause a blockage or twisting. Malrotation can also result in an incomplete attachment of the mesentery, which secures the placement of the bowels in the abdominal cavity, thus weakening or otherwise destabilizing the bowels.

Other conditions affecting the intestine are a result of inflammation, tearing or ulceration and can cause infection and produce abdominal symptoms, such as diarrhea or constipation, pain, cramping, bloating and nausea. These conditions include diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Intestinal conditions are usually not an emergency situation, but persistent diarrhea, a common symptom, can result in serious dehydration or other serious symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, inability to pass stool or gas, or vomiting blood.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for an intestinal condition but mild symptoms recur or persist.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of intestinal conditions?

Symptoms of intestinal conditions depend on the cause and origin of the disease. Abdominal pain, cramping, fullness and constipation are common factors among these conditions.

Common symptoms of intestinal conditions

Common symptoms related to the intestines include:

CAUSES

What causes intestinal conditions?

Intestinal conditions can be caused by structural abnormalities, obstructions, inflammation, infection, tumors, or other conditions.

Structural abnormalities of the intestines

Structural abnormalities of the bowel can be present at birth or caused by surgery. Examples include:

TREATMENTS

How are intestinal conditions treated?

Treatment of intestinal conditions begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. Because of the wide range of intestinal conditions, there are many different treatment approaches. Many therapies include the supplementation of nutrients and fluids that are lost due to malabsorption and diarrhea. A variety of medications is available to increase, reduce or relax the movements o... Read more about intestinal conditionstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


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