The colon is an organ in your digestive system that holds waste product until you have a bowel movement. While a healthy colon causes few, if any, notable symptoms during digestion, an inflamed, diseased or damaged colon can stimulate pain. Certain foods and eating habits may be particularly problematic. Because colon pain can arise from various conditions, some of which require medical treatment, seek guidance from your doctor if your symptoms are severe or long-lasting.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
During the normal breakdown of particular undigested foods, harmless bacteria in your colon produce gas. Pain is one of the most common symptoms associated with gas, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse 12. If you are particularly sensitive to gas or have a food sensitivity, you may experienced increased pain associated with gas production after eating particular foods. Less common but more serious potential causes include Crohn's disease and colitis -- inflammatory bowel diseases that trigger chronic bouts of pain, diarrhea and bloating 34. Colorectal cancer can also cause abdominal pain, which may occur at anytime, and rapid fullness while you are eating.
Standard diagnosis of digestive conditions usually begins with a physical exam and review of your symptoms, lifestyle habits and medical history. If your doctor suspects that you have an IBD, he or she may conduct laboratory tests, X-rays or an endoscopy, in which an lighted instrument is inserted into your digestive tract. Similar tests may be used to rule out or identify colon cancer, according to MayoClinic.com. An elimination diet, which involves avoiding suspected problem foods to see if your symptoms alleviate, may be used to diagnose a food sensitivity.
Colon pain after eating may or may not require medical treatment. If your symptoms stem from gas, lifestyle changes and over-the-counter gas aids may be sufficient. Treatment for a food sensitivity may involve avoiding the problem food or taking digestive enzymes, which enhance digestion. Treatment for colon cancer may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and medications that target cancer cells.
Take note of and avoid foods that seem to trigger or worsen your symptoms. Common gas triggers, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, include beans, cruciferous vegetables, such as:
- sorbitol (http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/yrdd/ 'inline-reference::National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Your Digestive System
- How it Works')2
Overeating, eating too quickly and eating fatty or greasy foods may increase bloating and other symptoms related to gas and irritable bowel disease. If you have colon cancer, a nutritious diet may enhance your immune system's ability to heal and promote energy and a sense of well-being throughout treatment. Because cancer and cancer treatment can disrupt your appetite, making it difficult to eat well, seek specified guidance and support from your doctor or dietitian.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Your Digestive System and How it Works
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract
- Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America: Diet and Nutrition for Crohn's Disease and Colitis
- Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America: About Crohn's Disease
- zilli/iStock/Getty Images