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Bowel Diseases

At El Camino Health, our digestive health doctors expertly diagnose and treat bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, polyps, irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer.

Whether you are experiencing new bowel symptoms or have been living for years with bowel problems, our gastrointestinal specialists at El Camino Health are committed to identifying the source of the problem and finding ways to effectively manage your condition or disease.

From your first visit, our digestive health team will do everything possible to make you feel comfortable and at ease. We’ll get to know you and to understand how your symptoms are affecting your life. We’ll spend time with you to make sure your questions are answered and listen to all of your concerns.

The doctors at El Camino Health are fellowship trained in digestive disorders, and some of them have specialized expertise in treating Crohn’s disease and colitis.

We perform a large number of colonoscopies and other procedures, which increases our skill and lowers complication rates so you can return to normal activities more quickly.

Many of our doctors participate in clinical trials to give you better access to new treatments. We also have invested in the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment to give you the best possible information about your symptoms and to help us create a treatment plan that allows you to live your life fully.

Our blend of personalized care and advanced technologies and treatments results in an exceptional level of care for you.

Bowel diseases we treat include:

Bowel Incontinence

Bowel incontinence is the inability to control your bowels, causing stool to leak from the rectum. Millions of Americans of all ages experience this, although it is more common in women and older adults. Causes include damage to muscles or nerves of the anus or rectum from childbirth, surgery, inflammatory bowel disease and other factors. Constipation and diarrhea also may contribute.

Dietary changes, medicine, biofeedback training of the sphincter muscle and surgery are treatment options for bowel incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises also may help.

El Camino Health uses sacral nerve stimulation in select cases to help relieve bowel incontinence by restoring coordination between the brain and pelvic floor, bowel and sphincter muscles by stimulating nerves in the lower back.

If the anal sphincter muscle does not permit normal evacuation of stool, El Camino Health offers the Secca® procedure to improve your muscles’ ability to recognize and retain stool.

Following testing and diagnosis, your doctor at El Camino Health will develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your particular circumstances.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer for men and women. Our cancer specialists aggressively and expertly treat colorectal cancer using surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these.

Constipation

Constipation is a common digestive problem that makes it difficult for you to have a bowel movement. Bowel movements may be infrequent, and stools may be dry and hard.

Chronic constipation may be a symptom of a problem with your diet or a health problem.

For most people, eating a healthy diet, getting enough fiber, exercising regularly and drinking enough fluids will resolve constipation. Changing medicine, bowel training with biofeedback or surgery may be required in chronic cases. El Camino Health also uses sacral nerve stimulation in select cases to help relieve chronic constipation by restoring coordination between the brain and pelvic floor, bowel and sphincter muscles by stimulating nerves in the lower back.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease is a general term for a group of diseases in which the small and/or large intestines become inflamed. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common types of IBD.

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammation can occur anywhere along the digestive tract, although it most commonly occurs in the lower part of the small intestine.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bleeding from the rectum, weight loss and fever.

Although Crohn’s disease cannot be cured, medicine or surgery can help manage symptoms. Some people experience a remission from symptoms for months or even years.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the rectum and colon (large intestine).

Colitis can happen at any age, but it usually starts between ages of 15 and 30. It tends to run in families. The most common symptoms are pain in the abdomen and blood or pus in diarrhea. Other symptoms may include:

  • Anemia
  • Severe fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Sores on the skin
  • Joint pain

About half of people with ulcerative colitis have mild symptoms. The disease often can be managed, but it is not curable. Medications can help with inflammation. In more serious cases, your doctor may prescribe steroid medications, antibiotics or medications that affect the body's immune system.

Some people have long periods of remission, when they are free of symptoms. In the most severe cases, your doctor may recommend removing all or part of the colon or rectum.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a problem that affects the large intestine, causing abdominal cramping, bloating, gas and a change in bowel habits. You may experience constipation, diarrhea or bouts of both. Although IBS can cause a great deal of discomfort, it does not harm the intestines.

IBS is common. It affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than 45 years. No one knows the exact cause of IBS.

Primary treatment recommendations include eating a high-fiber diet, controlling stress and taking medication that relaxes the colon.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a condition where your pelvic floor muscles fail to relax during a bowel movement. This abnormal increase in muscle activity (contractions) contributes to some forms of constipation, complaints of incomplete evacuation and straining with stool.

At El Camino Health, our doctors and therapists use biofeedback to help people become more aware of these muscles and retrain them to relax during a bowel movement.

Polyps

A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue in your large intestine (colon) or rectum. Most polyps are not dangerous, but some can turn into cancer.

If your doctor finds a polyp during a screening colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, the doctor will remove the polyp and send it for further study to confirm that it is not cancerous.

Polyps occur most often in people over age 50 and those with a personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer.

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