A thorough exam of the colon is necessary to detect cancer, pre-cancerous growths, or other abnormalities. In Canada, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer, and yet early detection of colorectal cancer can increase the odds of survival significantly. However, in 2008, only 40% of Canadians over 50 years old reported they had been tested for colorectal cancer. Some people resist having a colonoscopy because they do not want to take over-the-counter laxatives required to prepare for the exam. Others find the side effects of these drugs, such as diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting to be so unpleasant that they won’t return for a follow-up. A successful colonoscopy depends on having a clear colon to allow for an unobstructed view of the colon wall. Without proper cleansing, the results won’t be accurate.
If you are experiencing a varied range of digestive symptoms (such as bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and abdominal pain) but your doctor has ruled out more serious illnesses like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, chances are good you are suffering from what is known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. This common, chronic condition, which is endured by approximately 20% of the population, affects the functioning of the large intestine, causing digestive discomfort that usually ranges in severity from mild to moderate, but which can become quite debilitating for some. While at present there is no cure for IBS, diet and lifestyle changes, along with supportive therapies that aid in improving intestinal function, can make the condition much more manageable.