March 5, 2010

What Is Short Bowel Syndrome?

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Short Bowel Syndrome Diet:

Short bowel syndrome is characterized by a difficulty in the absorption of nutrients from the bowel or intestines. This occurs due to shorter length of the small bowel or due to problems in its functioning. The possibilities of absorbing nutrients, fluids and salts are better when the length of the small bowel is longer. Birth defects, disease or surgery may lead to shortening of the bowel. The poor absorption of nutrients by a shortened small bowel can result in improper nutrition and dehydration which can pose serious complications. Symptoms of short bowel syndrome include diarrhea, foul smelling stools, stomach cramps, bloating, weight loss, hair loss and tiredness. Skin rash and problems in vision may also occur.

Digestion of food occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, which comprises of the stomach and the intestines. The tube that travels from the stomach to the large intestine or colon is known as the small intestine. It is composed of the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. The large intestine or colon is the connecting tube between the small bowel and the anus. It absorbs water from the food that has been digested and converts this food into stools which are then eliminated from the body through a bowel movement. Short bowel syndrome occurs due to loss of a portion of the small bowel. It can also occur when loss of function takes place in the small bowel. Congenital defects or complications at any point during the lifetime of an individual can contribute to the development of this condition. Defects that occur during the development of the fetus may include a shortened small bowel. Surgery performed for the treatment of intestinal problems may also cause short bowel syndrome. Other causes of this condition include infections, radiation or tumors.

Right nutrition is essential in the treatment of short bowel syndrome. The individual may require minerals and vitamins which may be given in the form of supplements such as those of magnesium, calcium, thiamine, vitamins A, B12 and D. The symptoms may be alleviated through medication such as antibiotics which help to fight infections. Medicines may also be administered to ease fever, diarrhea, blood clots and swelling. In some cases surgery may also be required especially when there is blockage of the intestines. Bowel transplants may also be done to replace the shortened bowel with a healthy donor bowel. Through proper treatment which includes medication and good nutrition, the condition may be improved and further complications may be prevented.