The intestines are a long, continuous tube running from the stomach to the anus. Most absorption of nutrients and water happen in the intestines. The intestines include the small intestine, large intestine, and rectum.

The small intestine (small bowel) is about 20 feet long and about an inch in diameter. Velvety tissue lines the small intestine, which is divided into the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The main functions of the small intestine is to absorb most of the nutrients from what we eat and drink that is to complete digestion of food and to absorb nutrients. Concerning absorption, carbohydrates and proteins are absorbed in the duodenum and jejunum respectively. The jejunum also functions to absorb most fats. The ileum function involves absorption of vitamin B12, bile salts and all digestion products which were not absorbed in duodenum and jejunum. All three small intestine segments absorb water and electrolytes.

The large intestine (colon or large bowel) is about 5 feet long and about 3 inches in diameter. The colon absorbs water from wastes, creating stool. As stool enters the rectum, nerves there create the urge to defecate. The large intestine is responsible for several major functions: absorption of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride) and water (1L/day), propulsion of intestinal contents, and the formation, temporary storage and defecation of feces. The large intestine houses the physiological microflora, which is rich in anaerobic bacteria (approx. 1011/g) that live in symbiosis with the human body. They fulfill essential functions such as decomposing indigestible food ingredients (e.g. cellulose), producing vitamin K, promoting intestinal peristalsis and supporting the immune system.

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Frequently asked questions about Intenstine

What is intussusception?

It is a serious condition in which part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine. This "telescoping" often blocks food or fluid from passing through.

How is intussusception treated?

If the intestine is torn, if an enema is unsuccessful in correcting the problem or if a lead point is the cause, surgery is necessary. The surgeon will free the portion of the intestine that is trapped, clear the obstruction and, if necessary, remove any of the intestinal tissue that has died. Surgery is the main treatment for adults and for people who are acutely ill.

What is the treatment for rectal prolapse?

A prolapsed rectum can be reduced with gentle digital pressure; an incarcerated rectal prolapse is rare. Although no medical treatment is available for rectal prolapse, internal prolapse should always be first treated medically with bulking agents, stool softeners, and suppositories or enemas. Biofeedback may be helpful if paradoxical pelvic floor contraction also exists.  Surgical treatments can be divided into two categories according to the approach used to repair the rectal prolapse: abdominal procedures and perineal procedures. The choice between an abdominal procedure and a perineal procedure is mainly dictated by the patient’s age and comorbidities (other coexisting medical conditions).

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and how is it treated?

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) focuses on relieving symptoms so that you can live as normally as possible. Mild signs and symptoms can often be controlled by managing stress and by making changes in your diet and lifestyle Medications approved for certain people with IBS include: Alosetron (Lotronex). Eluxadoline (Viberzi), Rifaximin (Xifaxan) Lubiprostone (Amitiza) Linaclotide (Linzess)

What is the treatment for colon and rectal cancer

Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the tumor followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. A clinical trial may also an option. For rectal cancer, radiation therapy may be used with chemotherapy before or after surgery, along with adjuvant chemotherapy.

Which hospital is best for intestinal surgeries?
  • Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Hyderabad.
  • Apollo Hospitals,
  • BLK Super Specialty Hospital.
  • Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.
  • Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.
  • Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon.
  • Aster CMI, Hebbal.
  • Wockhardt Hospitals.
How is celiac disease treated?

The only way to manage the symptoms of celiac disease is to eat a strict gluten-free diet. Eating foods without gluten lets your small intestine heal, and stops future problems and inflammation. One needs to avoid any foods made with wheat and wheat flour.

What are the stages of intestinal cancer?

They are typically staged using the American Joint Committee on Cancer's TNM (Tumor, node, metastasis) system. Some types of cancers like carcinoid tumors do not have a standard staging system. In this case, the spread of the cancer is simply defined as localized, regional or distant. The intestinal cancer stages described here are for the more common adenocarcinomas and are defined using the TNM system. Once the category is assigned, the cancer is diagnosed at one of the following stages:

Stage 0: The cancer has not grown beyond the mucosa.

Stage I (stage 1 intestinal cancer): In this stage, the disease has grown beyond the mucosa, but has not spread beyond the small intestine to other sites or lymph nodes.

Stage II (stage 2 intestinal cancer): The cancer has grown into or through the intestinal wall. At this stage, it may or may not have reached nearby organs. There is no evidence of spread of disease to lymph nodes or distant sites.

Stage III (stage 3 intestinal cancer): In stage III of intestinal cancer, the disease has metastasized to nearby lymph nodes. The tumor may be any size (T1 through T4). The cancer may or may not have reached nearby organs. Distant sites like the lung or liver remain unaffected.

Stage IV (stage 4 intestinal cancer): The cancer may be any size and has spread throughout the body to distant sites like the liver, lung or lining of the abdominal cavity.

What is the best antibiotic for diarrhoea?

Presently, azithromycin is the preferred first-line antibiotic for the treatment of acute watery diarrhea (single dose 500 mg), as well as for febrile diarrhea and dysentery (single dose 1,000 mg). In the case of traveler's diarrhea, antibiotic treatment is effective in reducing the duration and severity of diarrhea. Because of the high rates of resistance to ampicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, currently the drugs recommended include azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and rifaximin

Which is the best hospital to treat colon Cancer in India?

List of Best Recommended Hospitals for Rectal Cancer in India

What are the signs of intestine problem?

The first sign of problems in the digestive tract often includes one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding
  • Bloating (feeling of fullness in the stomach)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Incontinence
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the belly
  • Swallowing problems
  • Weight gain or loss
What is the most common intestinal disorder ?
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Heartburn happens, but if it occurs regularly, you may need to be evaluated for GERD. ...
  • Chronic Diarrhea. 
  • Chronic Constipation. 
  • Gastroenteritis. 
  • Ulcers. 
  • Hemorrhoids.
What causes bowel problem?

Bowel problems have a wide variety of causes, including structural abnormalities, infections, inflammations, surgical complications, medication use, and lifestyle factors such as diet.

What disease affect intestine?

Gastrointestinal disorders include such conditions as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, perianal abscesses, anal fistulas, perianal infections, diverticular diseases, colitis, colon polyps and cancer

What are symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Any major change in bowel habits like-

Blood in the stool that is either bright red, black or tarry

Unintentional weight loss.

Stools that are narrower than usual.

Diarrhea, constipation

Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain.

A feeling that the bowel doesn't empty completely.

Weakness or fatigue.

Can colorectal cancer be prevented?

Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.

What is functional gastrointestinal disorder?

Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) are common disorders that are characterized by persistent and recurring GI symptoms. These occur as a result of abnormal functioning of the GI tract. They are not caused by structural (tumors or masses) or biochemical abnormalities.

What causes infection in the intestine?

Bacterial gastroenteritis happens when bacteria cause an infection in your gut. This causes inflammation in your stomach and intestines. Symptoms like vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. While viruses cause many gastrointestinal infections, bacterial infections are also common.

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Intestine Conditions

  • Stomach flu (enteritis): Inflammation of the small intestine. Infections (from viruses, bacteria, or parasites) are the common cause.
  • Celiac disease: An "allergy" to gluten (a protein in most breads) causes the small intestine not to absorb nutrients properly. Abdominal pain and weight loss are usual symptoms.
  • Carcinoid tumor: A benign or malignant growth in the small intestine. Diarrhea and skin flushing are the most common symptoms.
  • Intestinal obstruction: A section of either the small or large bowel can become blocked or twisted or just stop working. Belly distension, pain, constipation, and vomiting are symptoms.
  • Colitis: Inflammation of the colon. Inflammatory bowel disease or infections are the most common causes.
  • Diverticulitis: When diverticuli become inflamed or infected, diverticulitis results. Abdominal pain and constipation are common symptoms.
  • Colon bleeding (hemorrhage): Multiple potential colon problems can cause bleeding. Rapid bleeding is visible in the stool, but very slow bleeding might not be.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: A name for either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Both conditions can cause colon inflammation (colitis).
  • Crohn's disease: An inflammatory condition that usually affects the colon and intestines. Abdominal pain and diarrhea (which may be bloody) are symptoms.
  • Ulcerative colitis: An inflammatory condition that usually affects the colon and rectum. Like Crohn's disease, bloody diarrhea is a common symptom of ulcerative colitis.
  • Diarrhea: Stools that are frequent, loose, or watery are commonly called diarrhea. Most diarrhea is due to self-limited, mild infections of the colon or small intestine.
  • Traveler's diarrhea: Many different bacteria commonly contaminate water or food in developing countries. Loose stools, sometimes with nausea and fever, are symptoms.
  • Colon polyps: Polyps are growths inside the colon.  Colon cancer can often develop in these tumors after many years. 
  • Rectal cancer: Colon and rectal cancer are similar in prognosis and treatment. Doctors often consider them together as colorectal cancer.
  • Constipation: When bowel movements are infrequent or difficult. 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is an intestinal disorder that causes irritable abdominal pain or discomfort, cramping or bloating, and diarrhea or constipation.
  • Rectal prolapse: Part or all of the wall of the rectum can move out of position, sometimes coming out of the anus, when straining during a bowel movement.
  • Intussusception: Occurring mostly in children, the small intestine can collapse into itself like a telescope. It can become life-threatening if not treated.
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