Due to our sedentary life style, it has become very common for our belly to feel uncomfortable sometimes. But there are symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore, since they can indicate much more serious problems.

Here at Bright Side let’s explore these symptoms and get some advice on how to have a healthier colon.

1. Abdominal pain

This can happen to all of us if we eat or drink something wrong. But if you frequently feel an increasing pain in the lower abdomen, you could be suffering from some inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or cancer.

2. Constipation

If you experience constipation often, and if you feel pain during defecation, it might be diverticulitis, which are small inflamed pouches inside your colon, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a complex disease in which this symptom is associated with things like diarrhea, bloating, pain, and gas. Sometimes a proper diet can heal this, but if it’s ignored for long time it may need surgery to heal properly.

3. Diarrhea

If you frequently have stools that are too soft or liquid, your colon isn’t working properly, it’s not absorbing water and other substances, and it is inflamed. Multiple colon diseases are associated with diarrhea, like Irritated Bowel Syndrome, diverticulitis, and Crohn’s disease. If it lasts for longer than 24 hours ask a doctor, he may prescribe a colonoscopy to exclude more serious diseases and cancer.

4. Blood in feces

If there’s blood on your toilet paper, or in the toilet water, it may be inflammation. If you find dark blood, almost black, in your stool, or if you have bloody diarrhea, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. It might be Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or in the worst case, cancer.

5. Strange feces

The shape, the consistency, and the color of stools indicates if we are healthy. Unusual shapes like a thin pencil shape can indicate cancer. Maroon-colored stools may indicate that there is blood inside your digestive tract, especially if they are almost a reddish-black. If it is pale and oily, it might be because the pancreas or the colon can’t absorb fat. The presence of lots of mucus in the stool could indicate inflammation, like in Crohn’s disease. Understanding what is wrong with unusual stool is mandatory in getting the proper medication or surgery as soon as possible.

6. Intestinal gas

Too much and smelly gas means that there’s something that hasn’t been digested or absorbed by the colon. It can be due to a lack of good bacteria, to inflammation, or to abnormal intestinal movements, like with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It’s important to understand if it’s due to eating certain foods like beans, cabbage, whole grains, cheese, prunes, pears, or if it’s a symptom of a colon disease.

7. Lack of energy

If the colon isn’t working properly, we suffer from a lack of precious nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. It can make us feel tired and cause sleep problems. If you suddenly become exhausted after daily activities at home or at work, it may be due to colitis or Crohn’s disease or it could even indicate cancer.

We have to take care of our colon by eating lots of fiber from vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, and lowering our consumption of red meat, fried foods, sugar, alcohol, and coffee. It’s also good to quit smoking and start drinking enough water every day. Pay attention to the symptoms above and don’t hesitate to see a doctor, if necessary.

Do you suspect that you have some of these symptoms? Have you suffered from colon diseases? Tell us about your experience.

Illustrated by Mariya Zavolokina, Yekaterina Ragozina for Bright Side