Diarrhea, constipation, constant stomach pain, dense feeling at the left flank: these are just some of the symptoms that can manifest a disorder affecting our intestines. But what can hide behind these symptoms? We talk about this topic with Professor Silvio Danese, Head of the Centre for Inflammatory Chronic Intestinal Diseases in Humanitas.


Diarrhea and lactose

Occasional diarrhea episodes should not cause concern, especially if they resolve spontaneously after one or two discharges, “but when diarrhea always occurs, one or two hours after consuming milk, fresh cheeses, ice cream or cream, it may be an indicator of lactose intolerance, more likely if it is accompanied by nausea, pain and abdominal swelling. This problem is linked to a lactase deficiency, the enzyme with which the body cleanses lactose to be digested.

The diagnosis often relies on the Breath test, an examination that “hydrogen of the breath after lactose consumption. If it is high, the result is positive, says Prof. Danese.


Constipation, attention to nutrition and sedentary diet

Those who suffer from constipation find it difficult to evacuate feces and when they discharge, do so with difficulty, perhaps every 2-3 days.

Probably constipation is due to insufficient consumption of fibers and liquids, which give the feces the right consistency to pass through the intestine and be easily expelled. Sedentariness also plays a role: activity in fact stimulates intestinal motility”, comments prof. Danese.


Irritable colon syndrome

An alternation of constipation and diarrhea, associated with chronic stomach malice, especially around the navel, and irreducible swelling could be signs of irritable colon syndrome. A disorder linked to a functional alteration of the intestine, which, due to stress, anxiety, colds or the intake of certain foods, moves too slowly or accelerates, affecting the balance of the bacterial flora.

If constipation prevails, insoluble fiber supplements such as inspectoragula, which have a mild laxative effect, can be used. On the other hand, in cases of diarrhea it is beneficial to use probiotics, which help to restore the intestinal microbioma and its functions,” the professor advises.


Falls and spasms on the left side

The presence of density and spasms on the left side could be linked to diverticulitis, “small pockets that are formed on the walls of the colon, especially in the sigma. They don’t cause problems but, when they are inflamed, they can cause pain and trigger an infection”.

To avoid it, it is advisable to consume at least 20 grams of fibers per day (apples, pears, raspberries, dried plums, barley, spelt, millet, rice and whole meal pasta), limit red meat and “if possible, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, because they are irritating”, recommends prof. Danese.