People who frequently have problems with their stomach and intestines know that it is often difficult to find the exact cause of abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhoea or gastroenteritis. Often numerous examinations are necessary in order to make an exact diagnosis. Behind such intestinal complaints is not necessarily a serious illness. Also many food intolerances can trigger them. A stool examination provides initial indications as to whether or which bacteria cause intestinal discomfort or inflammation.
What is gastroenteritis?
Inflammation of the intestine is caused by infection of the intestinal tract. Characteristic for such an inflammation of the intestine is above all a sensitive and irritated intestinal mucosa. Only a small part of the intestine can be affected, but also several intestinal sections can be inflamed at the same time. If stomach problems occur in addition to the symptoms in the intestine, it is enteritis.
Inflammation of the bowel often manifests itself with the following symptoms:
- stomach pains
- loss of appetite
- mucus or blood in stool
- bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi
- blood flow disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract
- kidney disease
- wrong diet (in case of intolerances, allergies)
- food poisoning (e.g. by salmonella germs)
- abuse of alcohol, drugs, and certain medications
- psychic triggers (e.g. permanent stress)
- use of medications (e.g. antibiotics or cortisone)
Acute or chronic gastroenteritis – for example in the large intestine – are sometimes associated with pain, which makes normal everyday life very difficult for those affected.In particular, long-term stress can cause the gastrointestinal tract to do less work. In the case of unexpected dangers or temporary challenges, this makes sense because the body provides more power for the circulation and brain in stressful situations. When the stress is over, for example after a test, the normal performance of the intestine returns: the feeling of hunger returns, the nausea disappears. If, on the other hand, you are permanently stressed, this can damage the immune defence of the gastrointestinal tract in the long term and make it vulnerable to harmful bacteria and viruses . A possible consequence is painful inflammation of the intestine.
Inflammatory bowel diseases: What are the differences?
Bacterial or viral or due to other causes: Inflammations of the intestines manifest themselves differently in each person affected and often progress in very different ways. A careful diagnosis is important so that acute intestinal inflammations do not become chronic at some point. The frequent trigger for acute inflammations in the intestines is eating bad food or food infected with pathogens. For example Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis belong to the chronic intestinal diseases.
The severity of the intestinal disease also influences which treatment methods are appropriate: In mild bowel inflammation bed rest, tea, light food, a hot-water bottle and drinking plenty of fluids may be sufficient to bring achieve recovery. If it is severe intestinal inflammation, drugs are usually used – for example antibiotics for bacterial inflammation, cortisone, anticonvulsants or pain killers. In addition, depending on the diagnosis, a change in the diet can have a positive effect on intestinal health
Possible steps for the treatment of intestinal inflammation
Since many intestinal diseases are similar in their symptoms, several examinations are necessary in case of doubt in order to obtain a clear result. A detailed discussion between the patient and the attending doctor is particularly important. If the affected person describes his symptoms precisely, the doctor is often able to draw initial conclusions about possible causes of inflammation. This is followed by the external scanning of the gastrointestinal tract by the doctor. If he feels hardening there, this may indicate inflammatory areas. For more detailed results, a examination with an ultrasound device follows.
This is followed by a blood test and a stool test to determine any discrepancies. A gastroscopy or colonoscopy helps to locate previously diagnosed abnormalities and, if necessary, to take samples from the corresponding areas for laboratory examination.
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