Module: Dysphagia and the Digestive Tract
Janet L. Poole, PhD, OTR/L, and Cindy Mendelson, PhD, RN, and Dinesh Khanna, MD, MS
The large intestine, or large bowel, reabsorbs water and salts that have been made by the stomach and intestines, which helps form the stool. The muscles of the stomach and intestines can be weakened in scleroderma, which can lead to constipation. Although everyone is different, constipation is usually thought of as fewer than three bowel movements per week. You may feel the symptoms of constipation if you have fewer bowel movements than you normally do.
What tests are used to diagnose problems in the large intestine (colon)?
Barium swallow and lower GI series
As mentioned above, a barium swallow is a test that allows the doctor to look at the outline of your colon or large intestine. In a barium swallow, you swallow a liquid with a substance called barium mixed in a drink. An x-ray is taken as the barium moves through the large intestine. The doctor looks for motility (movement) of the muscles and pouches or impactions (left-over stool).
Medications and medical procedures used to treat problems with the large intestine
Laxatives help the intestines get rid of food more easily. Examples of laxatives are Colace®, Milk of Magnesia, and lactulose.
Eat a high-fiber diet, including foods such as fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber grains. Drink lots of water.