By Dr. Dhruvil Gandhi, Colon & Rectal Surgeon
Poop, yes I said it, poop. Now that we have the chuckle out of our system, I want to bring attention to a very important part of your body – your colon. This question mark shaped organ is the last stop for food on its journey through your body and is responsible for extracting liquid and the last remnants of nutrients from stool.
Now, this topic may be uncomfortable to read about, but colon health is an important factor in our overall health. I’ve put together a list of facts about the colon that will help shed some light on this often overlooked organ.
- The colon is commonly known as the large intestine and is the next stop for food after passing through the small intestines.
- When the colon ends in the pelvis region, you can find the rectum, where stool is stored, and anal canal, where stool passes, upon defecation.
- Sanitary wipes can be used on the anus for cleansing, but make sure to use alcohol-free wipes because alcohol tends to dry the sensitive perianal skin.
- Your colon needs at least 35g of fiber daily for healthy function. A high fiber diet usually only has half the recommended daily amount of fiber, therefore taking a fiber supplement can make up this difference.
- Make sure to drink 5 to 6 glasses (8 oz.) of water daily in order to allow the fiber to work.
- If your stool is dark red or you experience persistent anorectal bleeding, please contact your doctor as this may be a sign of other underlying health conditions.
- Hemorrhoids are a pain in the rear – literally – but are a normal part of our anatomy. They act as cushions in the anus to protect the sphincter muscle and help prevent incontinence.
- Most hemorrhoid symptoms can be treated without surgery under the care of a colorectal specialist.
- Prolonged sitting on the toilet (reading books/magazines, using cell phone, etc.) can promote hemorrhoid problems if the habits continue over a period of time.
- Prolonged use of laxatives, stimulants, and stool softeners can cause worsening colon dysfunction.
- The highest risk factor for colorectal cancer is ages 50+, so give yourself the gift of a colonoscopy for your 50th birthday!