The Colon

The colon is a living organ that can be affected by different functional and organic conditions, even in people that have no symptoms.

Health and dietary measures are the first basic step for the correct functioning of the colon and to prevent potential diseases.

The digestive system is one of the richest, most varied systems in the human body. From the mouth to the anus, there is a large tube-shaped structure (complemented by a series of annex organs), which is in charge of the complex process of digesting, absorbing and metabolising food, storing it and finally expelling the remains.

The colon, also called intestine or large intestine, is the last section of this digestive system, connecting the small intestine to the anus. The organ is tube-shaped, approximately 150 cm in length (5-10 cm wide) and is made up of seven parts: from the interior to the end, there is the cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, rectum and anus.

The wall is made up of different layers or substrata in which we find epithelial cells, glands, muscle tissue and an outer serous layer, which are responsible for facilitating its functions:

  • Completing the absorption of liquids and certain foods (the majority has already been absorbed in the small intestine), and incorporating them into the bloodstream.
  • Storing and eliminating waste in the form of excrement through coordinated peristaltic movements.
  • In addition, the colon is abundantly colonised by commensal bacteria (Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Streptococcus faecalis, etc.), which contribute to synthesising certain vitamins necessary for the body.

Like any other living organ in the human body, it can be affected by disorders and changes in behaviour, dynamism and architecture, which can be benign or malignant. There can be functional disorders (irritable bowel, localised hypo or hypertonicity, evacuation disorders) and organic disorders (haemorrhoids, diverticulitis, angiomas, polyps, colitis, infarction, inflammatory diseases).

Malignant processes include bowel cancer, a degeneration of the intestinal epithelium, which is increasingly occurring in the West.

The first step to achieve the correct functioning of the colon and prevent potential diseases in the future is to establish dietary and nutritional habits: a typically Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, pulses, salads, fruit and fibre in general, avoiding animal fats, alcohol, smoking or being overweight. The first preventative step is of vital importance.

If these measures are insufficient, or in certain cases of constipation, irritable bowel, uncomplicated diverticular disease, colonic toxicity, etc., simple, therapeutic procedures can help restore balance and normality to the digestive function. One of these measures, developed and increasingly used in the West, is Colon Hydrotherapy.

There are other cases of poor intestinal function in which health and dietary measures alone may be insufficient. In these cases, certain medication can play an important role, under medical prescription, such as antidiarrhoeals or laxatives, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective medication, antiflatulents, etc.

Finally, in cases with persistent gastrointestinal symptoms, the presence of warning symptoms, a family history of bowel disease or simply by reaching a certain age (over 50 years of age), your doctor may consider necessary to check the inside of the colon to eliminate the possibility or detect specific intestinal disorders, in order to prevent them and implement the most suitable treatment. This simple, safe and reliable procedure is called Colonoscopy.