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Where Is Your Colon?

where is your colon

Your doctor says you should care about your colon and work to keep it healthy — but what exactly is it? Where is your colon? Why should you care about it?

Here’s what you need to know and how to keep it healthy.

What Is a Colon?

The colon is part of the large intestine. Food and drinks pass through the stomach and into the small intestine, where the majority of digestion occurs. Then, they move into the colon, where water, along with some nutrients and electrolytes, is removed. During this process, stool is formed.

Where Is Your Colon?

The colon is located in the abdomen between the small intestine and the rectum. It wraps around the small intestine in an upside-down U-shape and ends at the anus. You generally can’t feel your colon from the outside, as it is well-protected inside your abdomen.

Fun Facts!

  • The colon is 5 feet long. Women have a slightly longer colon.
  • The colon is never empty. Even after a bowel prep for a colonoscopy, it will contain water.
  • Around 38 trillion bacteria live in your colon. That’s about 2 pounds worth!
  • You can live without a colon. But it’s best to keep it healthy so you don’t have to.

How To Keep Your Colon Healthy

Your colon can experience a multitude of diseases and conditions, including cancer. Keeping it healthy and cancer-free is important in order to live your best life. Here are some simple ways to do so:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as they contain vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. A high-fiber diet has been linked to a lower risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Exercising regularly is not only heart-healthy but can help you maintain a healthy weight. People who exercise 30 minutes per day may have a lower risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing colon cancer, as well as many other types of cancer.
  • People who smoke or drink alcohol in excess may be more likely to develop colon cancer, so it is essential to avoid smoking or drinking too much.
  • The best thing you can do for your colon is to get routine cancer screenings to prevent cancer!

Colon Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from polyps, a precancerous abnormal growth on the inside lining of the colon or rectum. Screening tests like a colonoscopy can identify polyps so they can be removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. A colonoscopy is the gold standard for cancer screening, and everyone should begin screening for this type of cancer at the age of 45.

Who Is at Risk for Colon Cancer?

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older. This is why screening tests begin at age 45. Other risk factors  include:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • A diet low in fruits, vegetables, or dietary fiber
  • A diet high in fat or high in processed meats
  • Being overweight
  • Alcohol consumption and tobacco use

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Symptoms of this type of cancer can vary, so it is essential to see your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms.

  • Change in bowel habits that last longer than a few weeks
  • Rectal bleeding —dark stools or blood in the stool
  • Rectal pain or pressure
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained fatigue or weakness

When to See Your Doctor

Now that your question of “Where is your colon?” is answered, you can take action! At home, you can ensure that you eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. And when problems arise, you can partner with a gastroenterologist to address them as soon as possible.

One of the best actions you can take is to get your colonoscopy when you turn 45. Don’t delay this lifesaving procedure – schedule an appointment today!

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