Symptoms related to intestinal disorders may be different. “In general, patients present with abdominal pain often correlated with an alteration of the bowel, i.e. the functionality of the intestine (diarrhea or constipation) and in some cases, patients also report the presence of blood in the stools. Sometimes there are also disorders of the higher intestinal tract and therefore nausea and vomiting. All these disorders are a wake-up call not to be underestimated and from which to start with appropriate investigations,” explained Dr. Federica Furfaro, specialist at the Center for Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Humanitas, guest in the studio at My Physician on TV2000.

In the presence of these symptoms, it is advisable first of all to refer to the doctor who will direct the patient towards the most appropriate examinations for diagnosis.


Diagnostic tests

“The simplest test is blood collection, which makes it possible to detect any alteration in the blood count (an increase in white blood cells or a reduction in hemoglobin in the event of blood loss), or inflammation factors, or patients who complain of abdominalgia, diarrhea and swelling may have a celiac disease and in the blood we have the opportunity to look for antibodies specific to this type of disease.

We can then use the breath test, which allows us to evaluate different conditions; the Breath lactose test, for example, allows you to diagnose lactose intolerance: the patient ingests a marked substance, and through breathing, the test shows the absence of enzymes that digest milk and lactases,” explained the specialist.


Ultrasound of intestinal loops

“It is a simple and painless examination that makes use of a probe different from the probes that are normally used in ultrasound: it is in fact a smaller probe that instead of going deep has a more superficial vision and allows you to see the walls of the intestine. We can thus study intestinal wall thickenings (which can occur as a result of inflammation or infection such as gastroenteritis), but also what is next to the intestine, such as lymph nodes or abdominal fluid.

This test allows you to follow all the walls of the colon and see what is contained in the colon itself, such as gas or feces; often patients suffering from abdominal pain have colic due to the presence of excessive gas in the intestine and thanks to this examination we can distinguish this type of pain from a pain related to inflammation,” said Dr. Furfaro.


Irritable Colon, recommendations for proper nutrition

“Irritable bowel syndrome occurs with abdominal pain associated with altered ancestry (diarrhea or constipation). This disorder is linked to the excessive production of gas linked to food: attention should therefore be paid to the diet, reducing the consumption of sugars and carbohydrates, the so-called Fodmaps.

In the case of constipation, hydration is essential, and it is important to maintain stable meal times and regular physical activity. It is good then to ensure a diet rich in fiber, with vegetables, whole grains, and yogurt with lactic ferments. It is better to avoid red wine, astringent fruit, dry foods and complex foods that can slow the intestinal transit and promote constipation.

In the presence of diarrhea, however, you should not exaggerate with fiber, drink a lot of water and promote the consumption of astringent foods such as apples and plums, as well as starch (potatoes) that thicken the feces and improve this condition,” concluded the specialist.


Watch the full interview with Dr. Furfaro and the execution of a live ultrasound, click here