Undigested Mesalamine In Stool: What Your Body Is Telling You
Mesalamine is a medication used to treat inflammatory bowel disease . Mesalamine also has other brand names, such as Asacol, Lialda, Apriso, Delzicol, and Pentasa. This medication is more commonly used by people with mild ulcerative colitis, but it may also be helpful for those with Crohns disease. Some people with IBD have noticed that after taking this medication, the pills or capsules show up in their stool.
Many MyCrohnsAndColitisTeam members have shared their experiences with mesalamine in their stool. I take mesalamine tablets every morning, and I just found them in my stool, one member noted. This could have been happening for a long time, but I just now caught it. I really dont know what to do. Other members have also reported that the same thing is happening to them.
Pills that end up in your stool are sometimes referred to as ghost tablets or ghost capsules. This article covers what a ghost pill looks like, what causes ghost pills, and when to see your health care provider about ghost pills.
Treating Undigested Food In Stool
If you notice that there is a problem with your stool, speaking to a medical professional will often provide more insight on your situation. To further evaluate your condition, your doctor will most likely order a blood test and stool analysis to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
If a condition is identified as having led to your symptoms, treatment will promptly be carried out. But if undigested food in your stool is not found to be the result of any condition, the following recommendations may be considered:
- Eat smaller meals to allow your digestive tract to efficiently process your food
- Chew your food thoroughly
Undigested Food In Stools: Is It Normal Or A Serious Health Concern
Its pretty common to have undigested food in your stool. Approximately 30 percent of stool contains indigestible food matter that your body was unable to make use of. Most of this indigestible matter can be found in the form of fiber.
Fiber cannot be digested by the human digestive tract, as we lack the enzymes to break it down. Often, fiber is excreted unchanged, but sometimes it can be metabolized into gas and acids. Fiber rich food includes corn, peanuts, and cereals.
There are many foods that the body has a tough time digesting. This is only seen as a minor problem unless it occurs with other symptoms such as weight loss, chronic diarrhea, or other bowel changes.
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What Is Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulceration along the lining of the colon which can lead to abdominal pain, cramps, bleeding and diarrhea. The disease usually begins in the rectal area, which holds stool until you go to the bathroom, and may involve the entire colon over time. Ulcerative colitis is classified as an inflammatory bowel disease , due to the inflammation that occurs in the intestines. Another common form of IBD is called Crohns disease. Although the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are similar to Crohns disease, the conditions are different in several ways.
While both ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease are types of IBD, they should not be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome , a disorder that affects the muscle contractions and the sensitivity of the colon. Unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease, IBS does not cause intestinal inflammation nor damage the bowel.
Complications In The Intestine
Malabsorption and Malnutrition
Malabsorption is the inability of the intestines to absorb nutrients. In inflammatory bowel disease , this occurs as a result of bleeding and diarrhea, as a side effect from some of the medications, and as a result of surgery. Malnutrition may occur in ulcerative colitis, but it tends to be less severe than with Crohn disease.
Toxic megacolon is a serious complication that can occur if inflammation spreads into the deeper layers of the colon. In such cases, the colon enlarges and becomes paralyzed. In severe cases, it may rupture, which is a life-threatening event requiring emergency surgery. Symptoms include weakness, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, and frequently, fever.
Toxic megacolon is characterized by extreme inflammation and distention of the colon. Common symptoms are pain, distention of the abdomen, fever, rapid heart rate, and dehydration. This is a life-threatening complication that requires immediate treatment, usually surgical removal of the colon.
Bleeding and Anemia
Rectal bleeding due to ulcers in the colon is a common complication of ulcerative colitis. It can increase the risk for anemia . In some cases, internal bleeding can be massive and dangerous, requiring surgery.
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Causes Of Undigested Food In Stool
Although there are a variety of reasons for undigested food in stool, perhaps the most common reason is consuming food full of fiber.
Fiber is fantastic for healthy stool as it bulks the stool !
Thats because stool with more bulk will make the wall of the intestines contract, effectively pushing food downstream to further aid digestion and expulsion.
Fibrous food usually does not get digested entirely like other foods. One example of this is corn – you may have experienced this before or seen it in a movie – that theres corn in the poop! Other foods full of fiber that dont get digested can be:
- Tomato skins and other vegetable skins
Some of these foods have other reasons for their refusal to be digested in the same way.
Corn for example has an outer layer which does not get digested easily, due to its outside containing cellulose.
We cannot digest cellulose but we can digest everything else that corn has to offer! Weird right?
- Read more about How Much Fiber to Eat for IBS
What Are The Different Types Of Malabsorption Disorders
Some gastrointestinal diseases, such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, cause general malabsorption of all kinds of nutrients. In other cases, you may have particular difficulties absorbing a particular kind of nutrient. Some of these types include:
Some people are sensitive to one or several carbohydrates . You may experience this primarily as gas pain and abdominal bloating. Carbohydrates that arent fully absorbed in your small intestine get fermented by the bacteria in your colon. The bacteria break them down into gasses and short-chain fatty acids. The gasses cause intestinal gas, and the short-chain fatty acids cause fatty stools.
This is a common type of malabsorption, possibly because it has so many causes. Fats that arent absorbed in your small intestine pass to your colon, causing fatty stools . Fatty stools are greasy and runny and particularly smelly. They may be light-colored and float. Fat malabsorption also leads to the malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins .
Bile acid malabsorption
Sometimes fat malabsorption results from a lack of bile from diseases of the gallbladder, bile ducts or liver. But sometimes it results from another problem, leaving leftover bile acids in your small intestine and passing these on to your colon. This side effect is called bile acid malabsorption. Leftover bile salts trigger your colon to secrete water, causing chronic diarrhea.
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Is It Important To Treat A Flare Early Or Is It Ok To Wait A Bit
Inflammation typically does not resolve without treatment and early intervention has a better outcome than waiting to treat. At an early stage of a flare, a more optimal baseline treatment is often enough to get the inflammation under control. If you wait, there is a greater risk that you might need drugs with greater side effects, such as oral steroids. By waiting, you will have to manage longer with your symptoms before getting relief. Living with constant or longer periods of inflammation might increase your risk for future complications, as inflammation might cause damage to the gut wall that accumulates in severity with each flare.
If you are experiencing a worsening of your symptoms, you probably already had the flare for some time without symptoms. Evidence shows that a stool test for inflammation in the colon, called fecal calprotectin, is often elevated for two to three months before any symptoms appear. Your colon might also start to show visual evidence of inflammation before you have symptoms, or at least indicate an increased risk for a flare.
Eating With A Stricture
If you have a stricture , you may need to change what you eat to help prevent the intestine getting blocked.You might be advised to avoid foods that could block the intestine, such as:
If you have a severe stricture, you may only be able to eat very soft or liquid foods.Its important to speak to a dietitian to make sure youre eating a healthy, balanced diet. In some cases, they may recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement.
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Digestive Changes In Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition, meaning it comes on slowly over a long period of time. Currently, there is no known cure for UC.
With UC, inflammation and ulcers develop on the lining of the large intestine . Sometimes the rectum is affected, as well.
This inflammation can cause changes in bowel habits, including urgency, diarrhea, blood or mucus in the stool, and abdominal pain. When your large intestine is inflamed, it contracts and empties often, which is why you may have urgent bowel movements and diarrhea.
When chronic inflammation damages the lining of your colon, ulcers can develop. The ulcers can bleed, leading to blood in your stool. If you regularly lose a lot of blood in your stool, you might develop anemia .
Though diarrhea is more common, some people with UC experience constipation. Inflammation limited to the rectum, known as ulcerative proctitis, may result in constipation.
Other symptoms of UC include painful bowel movements, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, unintentional weight loss, and fever.
How Can Diet Help With My Symptoms
Making changes to your diet may help you manage some common symptoms of Crohns and Colitis, such as loose and runny stools, dehydration, bloating, wind, constipation, weight loss, tiredness, nausea and vomiting and pain. While changing your diet can help you manage your symptoms, it doesnt replace the medical treatment suggested by your IBD team.
Loose and runny stools
A common symptom of Crohns and Colitis is loose and runny stools, called diarrhoea. For some people, their diet has no effect on their diarrhoea. Others find that avoiding certain foods helps. You could use the food diary above to help you find out which foods might be causing your symptoms. Foods which sometimes make diarrhoea worse include spicy or fatty foods, high fibre foods, foods containing gluten and dairy foods. Drinks containing caffeine, sweeteners or alcohol can also make diarrhoea worse.Your IBD team or dietitian can advise you on how to manage your diarrhoea. They will want to make sure youre eating and drinking enough to get all the nutrients you need and to stay hydrated. In some cases, they may recommend medicines to help.Our guide Diarrhoea and constipation has more information about what causes diarrhoea and possible treatments.
If your body doesnt have enough water, you can become dehydrated. This might happen if you dont drink enough fluids or if your body loses too much fluid, for example, if you have diarrhoea or vomiting.You may be more likely to get dehydrated if:
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How Is Malabsorption Syndrome Treated
Malabsorption syndrome can have many underlying causes and also a wide range of effects. Your treatment will be based on these factors.
To treat the effects of malabsorption, you may need supplemental nutrition, either in an oral formula, or through a vein. You may need specific digestive enzymes replaced, either to treat a food intolerance or general pancreatic insufficiency. If you have bile acid malabsorption, you may need bile acid sequestrants to help prevent diarrhea.
Treating the underlying cause of malabsorption can be more complicated. If its only from a food intolerance, you may simply have to adjust your diet. Simple infections can be treated with antibiotics. But chronic diseases will require more particular treatment. Sometimes there is no direct cure, but lifestyle adjustments can help relieve symptoms.
When To Contact A Doctor
A person who notices a lot of undigested food in their stool should not worry most of the time, as it is likely to be due to undigested fiber or eating too quickly.
If someone notices the following symptoms plus undigested food in their stool, they should speak with a doctor:
- unexplained weight loss
- persistent abdominal pain or cramping
- persistent bloating or gas
- signs of dehydration, such as increased thirst or reduced urination
If a doctor suspects that a person has a condition affecting their digestive system, they may order the following diagnostic tests:
- a stool sample to look for blood and other abnormalities
- blood tests to look for nutritional deficiencies or inflammation markers
- endoscopy to look inside the upper digestive tract
- colonoscopy to examine the lower gastrointestinal tract
- biopsy to check for microscopic inflammation
Effect Of Ulcerative Colitis On The Colon And Rectum
Changes in stools are directly related to how UC affects your colon and rectum.
In UC, the immune system attacks healthy cells in the digestive tract. The attack increases white blood cells in your colon and rectum. Repeated attacks lead to chronic inflammation.
Inflammation causes your colon to contract and empty frequently, which is why you may experience frequent diarrhea and urgent bowel movements.
When inflammation destroys the cells lining your colon, sores or ulcers can develop. These ulcers can bleed and produce pus, resulting in bloody diarrhea.
Some people with UC also have constipation, but it isnt as common as diarrhea. Constipation typically occurs when inflammation is limited to the rectum. This is known as ulcerative proctitis.
What Is Nutritional Support
Because IBD, especially Crohn’s disease, may improve with nutritional support, it may be necessary to provide nutrition by delivering a nutrient-rich liquid formula directly into the stomach or small bowel. Known as enteral nutrition, this type of feeding is given overnight through a tube, most commonly from the nose to the stomach. This is called a nasogastric tube. This method ensures that patients receive nutrition while sleeping. In the morning, they remove the tube and go to work or school and generally pursue their normal activities. In this way, patients receive all the nutrition they need and are free to eat normally — or not — throughout the day.
Enteral feedings can also be given through a gastrostomy tube . A gastrostomy is a surgically created opening through the abdominal wall, leading directly into the stomach. The feeding tube is passed through this opening. The feedings are most commonly given overnight, but they can also be given intermittently throughout the day. Some patients prefer this approach because it avoids the discomfort of passing a tube down through the nose.
Total parenteral nutrition is delivered through a catheter placed into a large blood vessel, usually one in the chest. Although it bypasses the intestine and thereby allows the bowel to rest, parenteral nutrition may create more complications than enteral nutrition. It is also more expensive than the other methods of nutritional support and requires more specialized training to use.
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When Is It Time To See My Doctor
Are you struggling to poop or noticed your stool is really hard or really dry? These could indicate problems. Always take note of how your stool appears too, as it should be brown and soft.
There are a few problems that you should see a doctor about if youre experiencing continuous or frequent bowel evacuation, blood in your stool, difficulty controlling your bowel habits or rapid, unexplainable weight loss.
These symptoms might be an indicator of underlying issues far more serious than simply undigested fiber. Were going to look at some of these serious causes and some less serious ones.
Can I Prevent Ulcerative Colitis
There is currently no known way to prevent or cure for ulcerative colitis but the proper strategy for managing your disease can help you lead a happier, healthier, fulfilling life.
The exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown. However, it is believed to be due to a combination of factors, including a persons genes and triggers in the environment. This interaction of genetic and environmental factors activates an abnormal response of the bodys immune system.
Normally, the immune system protects the body from infection. In people with ulcerative colitis, however, the immune system can mistake microbes , food, and other material in the intestines, as invading substances.
When this happens, the body launches an attack, sending white blood cells into the lining of the intestines where they cause inflammation and ulcerations.
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Preparing For An Appointment
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease may first prompt a visit to your primary health care provider. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating digestive disorders .
Because appointments can be brief, and there’s often a lot of information to discuss, it’s a good idea to be well prepared. Here’s some information to help you get ready and what to expect from your provider.
Symptoms Of Ulcerative Colitis
Symptoms tend to vary according to how much of the colon is affected. The most common symptoms include abdominal pain and diarrhoea, which will contain blood and mucus. Other symptoms include:
- Wanting to empty the bowel constantly.
Symptoms can often be general, especially in mild cases, so an individual can be lead to think they dont need to see their doctor. In severe cases, the symptoms can be much more serious and may put a real strain on day-to-day living.
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Why Is There Undigested Food In Stool
Talking about stool with your family and friends is not very fun. So, when you find that you are having questionable bowel movements, possibly including undigested food, we keep it to ourselves to save us from embarrassment. Speaking to a doctor will often provide you with the answers you need. Until then, the following are potential factors that may lead to undigested food in your stool: