Colonic Inertia

Young woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on sofa at home
Toilet paper with text constipation

Colonic inertia is a condition that is also known as severe constipation or slow transit constipation. It develops once constipation lasts more than a week. At UNC REX – Colorectal, we provide appropriate, safe, and effective treatments for patients with colonic inertia in Raleigh.

What Is Colonic Inertia?

When the colon muscles and nerves move too slowly or weakly, it is difficult for a person to move their bowels regularly. When the body fails to get rid of waste through bowel movements on time or regularly, the patient may have developed colonic inertia.

Colonic Inertia Causes

There are several reasons why a person can develop colonic inertia. It could be that the nerves or muscles involved in eliminating waste have sustained damage. It could also be that the patient drinks too little water or eats too many dairy products. Patients with thyroid conditions have a higher chance of developing this health problem.

People who frequently use antacids and laxatives are at risk for colonic inertia. Some medications like opioids are also known causes of this condition. Lastly, supplements that are rich in iron and calcium can also be a cause of severe constipation.

Colonic Inertia Symptoms

A patient with colonic inertia can experience various symptoms. The most common symptom is constipation that lasts more than a week. Abdominal bloating or pain is another symptom of this condition. Patients with colonic inertia may also experience nausea or vomiting.

Colonic inertia can cause the patient to have diarrhea. If a person observes blood in the stool, it can be a symptom of having this health problem. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, it may be time to seek a medical diagnosis.

Diagnosing Colonic Inertia

Your consultation will start by discussing the symptoms you have experienced. We may inquire about your diet, lifestyle, and any medications or supplements you are taking. We will perform a physical exam, and we may also perform a number of tests, including a transit time measurement and a radiopaque market test.

Once we determine that you are suffering from colonic inertia, we will assess the severity of the condition and then recommend appropriate treatment options. We will make sure to answer any questions you may have during your consultation.

Preventing Colonic Inertia

While colonic inertia can be a complex condition, taking preventive measures can reduce the risk of its development. Here’s how you can actively work to prevent colonic inertia:

  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent constipation and maintain colon health. Regular physical activity, such as walking or jogging, can stimulate the muscles in your digestive tract, promoting smoother bowel movements. Ensure you drink adequate water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, which can contribute to constipation.
  • Medication Awareness: Be mindful of the medications you take. Some drugs, like opioids, can slow down bowel movements. Discuss alternatives with your healthcare provider when necessary.
Living with Colonic Inertia

Living with colonic inertia requires individuals to make certain adjustments to their daily routines to manage their condition effectively. Here are some practical strategies to help you navigate life with colonic inertia:

  • Dietary Management: Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for managing colonic inertia. Focus on incorporating fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your meals. These can promote regular bowel movements. Additionally, consider portion control to prevent overeating, which can exacerbate constipation. Consulting with a registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance on crafting a diet that suits your specific needs.
  • Coping Strategies: Dealing with a chronic condition can be emotionally challenging. It’s essential to develop effective coping strategies. Stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness can help alleviate anxiety related to your condition. Building a strong support network, including friends, family, and healthcare professionals, can provide invaluable emotional support. Consider joining support groups or seeking therapy to address the psychological aspects of living with colonic inertia.
Colonic Inertia Treatment Options

There are different options to treat colonic inertia depending on the severity of the condition. For mild to moderate constipation, we may recommend that patients try following a healthy diet, make certain lifestyle modifications, or take prescription medications.

However, if these options do not work, the patient may require a surgical procedure. Patients with severe colonic inertia are often recommended to have surgery.

There are several surgical options the patient can consider. One is colectomy surgery, where the colon is removed and the small bowel is attached to the rectum. Another surgical option is ileostomy, where the lowest part of the intestine is connected to the outside of the body by creating an opening known as a stoma. Waste will be collected in a stoma bag.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you have concerns about colonic inertia in Raleigh, visit us at UNC REX – Colorectal. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with one of our surgeons.

Learn more about the procedures and surgeries that our team offers.