Short Gut Syndrome, or Short Bowel Syndrome

The animation picture of bowel syndrome

Find Relief for Your Short Bowel Syndrome With Our Help

Your bowels consist of two separate parts, the large and small intestines. Short guy syndrome is a complex disease usually affecting patients with small intestines removed. Without your small intestine, your body may have complications properly getting nutrients. Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates is dedicated to helping Colorado patients suffering from short gut syndrome. We offer effective treatments to get you back to normal immediately. Whether the issue is caused due to missing your small intestine or the result of another illness, we have the solutions you need. Reach out to find out how simple it is to find relief.

What is Short Gut Syndrome?

Short gut syndrome or short bowel syndrome is a complex disease with symptoms and severity differing from person to person. The disease affects your body’s ability to properly absorb enough fluids and nutrients due to missing portions or malfunctioning portions of the small intestine. This disease can be present since birth, develop over time, or even result from surgically removing large portions of your small intestine. It’s possible to lead a normal active lifestyle, as it may take your body time to adjust to having a shorter small intestine.

What Does Your Small Intestine Do?

Your small intestine is part of your digestive system and is responsible for absorbing fluids, proteins, carbohydrates, iron, fats, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also split into three separate sections: the duodenum, located next to the stomach; the jejunum, the middle portion; and finally, the ileum, the most significant section connected to your colon. If your duodenum and a section of your jejunum were removed due to surgical intervention, then the ileum can absorb nutrients. When a substantial section of your jejunum or the ileum is removed, it becomes hard to get the necessary nutrients.

Review Common Short Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Several symptoms point to the short gut syndrome. If you are experiencing any of these, we recommend scheduling a consultation. Left untreated short bowel syndrome can lead to dehydration and malnutrition and can be life-threatening. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common short gut symptoms, including:

  • Diarrhea – Diarrhea, especially watery diarrhea, is the most common symptom for children suffering from short gut syndrome.
  • Bloating
  • Excessive Gas
  • Foul-Smelling Stool
  • Poor Appetite
  • Weight Loss or Inability To Gain Weight
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Vitamin and/or Mineral Imbalance
  • Malnutrition
  • Abnormal Eating Habits
  • Kidney Stones
  • Bacterial Overgrowth

Explore Some Causes of Short Gut Syndrome

As mentioned, short bowel syndrome can be a congenital condition. For example, an individual’s small intestine may be abnormally short at birth, a piece of their bowel is missing, or the bowel doesn’t form correctly. The average adult has approximately 20 feet of small intestine. Short gut syndrome may develop when a large section of the small intestine has been surgically removed. Additional causes of short gut syndrome include:

  • Crohn’s Disease – Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting your gastrointestinal tract. Your intestines become inflamed and scarred. In this situation, short bowel syndrome is often a complication of having extensive surgery on your small intestine.
  • Intussusception – This is a form of bowel obstruction in which one portion of your intestines telescopes inside another. While this can occur anywhere in your intestinal tract, it most commonly occurs where your large and small intestines meet.
  • Damage To The Intestine Due to Volvulus, Trauma, Gastroschisis, Narrowing or Obstruction of Your Intestines, Tumors, and Blood Clots.
  • Cancer and Damage from Cancer Treatments Such as Radiation.

How We Diagnosis Short Gut Syndrome

When we attempt to diagnose short guy syndrome, our team always asks if you’ve had part of your small intestine surgically removed. If so, we’ll better understand how to process it. Regardless of the answer, it provides valuable insights into potential tests. We’ll conduct a thorough physical examination and ask questions regarding potential symptoms. Take a look at some additional tests our professionals use to diagnose small bowel syndrome:

  • Blood Tests
  • Stool Exams
  • X-Rays of Your Chest and Stomach
  • Barium X-Rays – You’ll consume a liquid that coats your throat, stomach, and small intestine for these X-rays, ensuring they stand out and are easy to see on an X-ray.
  • CT Scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Bone Density Test
  • Liver Biopsy

Take Advantage of Our Short Bowel Syndrome Treatments

The treatment rendered depends on factors such as how severe your condition is and how long it’s been since your small intestine was removed. If you’ve recently undergone surgery, it takes time for your small intestine to adapt. After some time, it can absorb nutrients better, but this process can take up to two years. Other treatment options include diet changes to compensate for missing nutrients. The two primary treatment goals are to ensure you have enough vitamins and minerals and to ease your symptoms without causing additional discomfort or pain. Other treatment options include:

  • Total Parenteral Nutrition – Total Parenteral Nutrition is a liquid solution that contains necessary fluids and minerals such as essential vitamins, sugars, fats, and protein. The solution is administered via IV over 10-12 hours, more commonly given while the patient is asleep. Some patients remain on this treatment indefinitely, while overs it’s a few months.
  • IV Fluids – This treatment option is for moderate cases and will add extra fluids and minerals to the body.
  • Meal Planning – When suffering from mild short bowel syndrome, you may need to change your eating habit. The diet includes eating several smaller meals while drinking more fluids and intaking more vitamins and minerals.
  • Medication – Medication such as anti-diarrhea medication may be used to ensure your intestines can extract the necessary nutrients. Other medications, such as teduglutide, can be used with feeding tubes.

Is Surgery Recommended?

Surgical intervention depends on the severity of the short bowel syndrome, the amount of small intestine that is damaged or missing, and the underlying cause of the complication. Intestinal and liver transplantation are two of the most common surgical procedures to treat short gut syndrome. Intestinal transplantation involves placing a portion of a donor’s small intestine into your body. This procedure is considered for patients who cannot absorb food or fluids, are entirely dependent on IV nutrients, and are at a high risk of losing access to reliable IV sites. Liver transplantation is often necessary for patients who develop liver disease from long-term IV fluid use.

Tips on How to Handle Short Gut Syndrome

It’s hard balancing symptoms while seeking and reviewing all possible treatment options. Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, short bowel syndrome doesn’t have to control your life. It’s important to establish care with a specialist to assist in planning an effective treatment plan. We’ve compiled a list of some steps you can take to help you along your recovery journey:

  • Understand and Know What You Eat – Unfortunately, no diet plan works for everyone. Working with a dietitian can help you find the right combination of lean protein and carbs that work for your situation.
  • Remain Active – Exercise is good for your body and mind. Keeping active can help you keep focused while you undergo treatment.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help – Build a support system you can lean on during treatment. Short bowel syndrome can be complicated, and having someone to vent to or take you to and from treatments is best.

Book Your Consultation Today

Avoid letting issues such as short gut syndrome interfere with your daily life. The experienced team at Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates can help diagnose and treat your symptoms so you can lead an everyday life. We offer each patient a welcoming and supportive environment to ensure you get the help you deserve. Our team performs almost 30,000 procedures annually, using the latest state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. Contact us today to find relief from your short gut syndrome.

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