What are the signs that you should have a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is the most accurate test for detecting colorectal cancer, a cancer that originates in the rectum or colon. Diagnosed early, the chance of survival is very good, which is why it’s recommended for anyone over the age of 50.
This test however, should not be taken lightly, as the procedure itself can result in complications, such as bleeding, tears in the colon or infections. The preparations that are needed prior to the colonoscopy are also inconvenient, since you have to restrict your diet and take laxatives to clear your lower bowel. You also need to be sedated, which requires someone to drive you to and from the appointment and a day off work. So as a simple preventative check, a colonoscopy usually doesn’t need to be performed any more often than every five to ten years.
When is a colonoscopy appropriate?
If you are over 50 years of age or you have a family history of colorectal cancer, then a colonoscopy is important. If there are no signs of this cancer, then a repeat in five to ten years is usually advised. This time interval will depend on your personal and familial history, so always discuss these with your medical practitioner.
What are the five signs that a colonoscopy may be advisable?
The majority of signs that may indicate colorectal cancer can also be indicators of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), haemorrhoids or some other benign condition. However, if you have any of the following signs for several weeks or they suddenly become severe, always consult your medical practitioner for clarification, because they might indicate that you have colorectal cancer.
- Changes to your bowel habits: Constipation and diarrhoea can be due to a host of different causes, only one of which is colorectal cancer. However, frequent or extended bouts of constipation or diarrhoea need to be discussed with your medical practitioner.
- Blood in your stools: Bright red blood can be indicative of haemorrhoids, whilst darker blood might indicate colorectal cancer, but these aren’t definitive or exclusive. Any blood in your stools needs to be assessed by your medical practitioner, who may order a colonoscopy to investigate the problem further.
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss: Obviously if you are on a diet to lose weight then this should be normal, but it you lose weight suddenly and for no apparent reason, you need to talk to your medical practitioner to find the cause.
- Abdominal discomfort: Wind pains, cramps, bloating and a feeling of fullness should all be investigated further by your medical practitioner.
- Feeling tired all the time: If there is no apparent reason for feeling tired for long periods of time, discuss this problem with your medical practitioner.
What is a colonic irrigation?
A colonic irrigation is aimed more at maintaining a healthy body rather than identifying potential cancers. They are a fairly straight forward practice that helps remove toxins and wastes from the colon and small intestine. It can also assist in clearing up some of the health issues discussed above, or just to give yourself a clean out and health tune up. For more information on colonic irrigation we recommend chatting with Bayside Body Therapy.
Even if you are not over 50 years of age, if you experience any of the above symptoms, you still need to discuss them with your medical practitioner. Whilst colorectal cancer usually occurs in people over 50 years of age, it can still occur in younger people. So don’t ignore these signs, even if you are embarrassed to discuss them with your medical practitioner. It’s better to err on the side of caution, than to be suddenly faced with a diagnosis that you would prefer hadn’t happened.