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Also known as a megacolon, an enlarged colon is a condition in which the large intestine or colon expands beyond what is considered a normal size, due to the presence of some type of blockage. Determining the proper treatment for an enlarged colon requires identifying the underlying causes for the development of the megacolon, then addressing those causes and finding a way to deal with the resulting symptoms. A number of health issues can cause the colon or large intestine to swell and become blocked, ranging from a temporary inflammation caused by an infection to a more enduring health problem like Crohn’s disease. Depending on the exact reasons, treatments may range from making dietary changes that cause less irritation to the use of medication to alleviate symptoms and infection, and may even include the need to undergo surgery.
When the enlarged colon is due to some type of infection that leads to temporary blockage, the course of treatment normally focuses on alleviating the pain and discomfort while also helping to reduce the infection. To this end, over the counter medication may be used to help reduce the fever and aches that are common with a megacolon. At the same time, antibiotics that can aid in reducing and ultimately healing the infection will be administered. Depending on the nature of the blockage, a doctor may also recommend the use of some type of laxative to aid the expulsion of the collected waste materials as a means of helping to minimize discomfort and allow the large intestine to begin healing.
When the underlying reason is attributed to the presence of Crohn’s disease or some similar ongoing health issue, the treatment will often focus on providing some type of relief for the pain. Typically, changing the diet to avoid certain foods that are likely to trigger an attack will be part of the overall treatment strategy. In addition, prescription medications formulated to help reduce the swelling and ease the pain will also be part of the approach. With a proper balance of medication and diet, it is possible to reduce the number of flare-ups experienced during the course of a year and allow the Crohn’s sufferer to enjoy a higher quality of life.
At times, no combination of medicine and other measures is sufficient to treat the enlarged colon. When this is the case, the only alternative may be to remove all or a portion of the large intestine. Considered a last resort, a surgical procedure known as an abdominal colectomy may be employed, with the goal being to leave as much of the large intestine in place as possible. Recovery from the surgery will often require rest for at least a week, the gradual reintroduction of liquids and soft foods as the bowels begin to function properly again, and taking steps to follow a dietary plan that minimizes stress on the bowels and remaining intestines.