Hirschsprung's Disease (Adult)

Hirschsprung's Disease (Adult)
“What is Hirschsprung's Disease?”
Hirschsprung's Disease, also known as congenital megacolon or aganglionic megacolon is an abnormality in which the parasympathetic ganglion cells, (which control colon motility) are not developed within the colon walls in the early embryonic stages of development. An affected colon is therefore unable to assist in the excretion process, as it cannot receive the signals from the brain to participate in the undulating movement needed to push its contents along. Fecal matter then builds up in the intestines, causing obstruction (chronic constipation.) While the cause is unknown, Hirschsprung's Disease is suspected to be passed down genetically. It often occurs in infants with Down Syndrome.

“What are the symptoms of Hirschsprung's Disease?”
An infant with a mild case of Hirschsprung's Disease may experience intermittent bouts of constipation and diarrhea. A typical case however, will be marked by severe constipation, bloating, abdominal tenderness and vomiting of bile, which has been pushed back up into the stomach, due to intestinal over-crowding. The child may experience loss of appetite, weight loss and malnutrition. Hirschsprung's Disease can also lead to sepsis (overwhelming infection) due to enterocolitis.

In adults, the only symptom of Hirschsprung's Disease would be life-long chronic constipation, and the resulting litany of discomforts and health factors. However, symptomless thickening and massive dilation of the colon walls will also occur. If you suspect you may have misdiagnosed or undiagnosed Hirschsprung's Disease, first consult with your parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles about a possible family history of Hirschsprung's Disease. It would also be helpful to ask your mother, if possible, about your bowel habits as an infant.

“How is adult Hirschsprung's Disease diagnosed?”
There are three basic tests for adult Hirschsprung's Disease:
  • Barium enema
  • Anorectal manometry (insertion of a soft, flexable tube which measures the pressures of the sphincter muscles, rectal sensation, and neural reflexes is inserted through the rectum)
  • Tissue biopsy (testing for presence of parasympathetic ganglion cells)

    “What are the treatments for adult Hirschsprung's Disease”
    At this time, the only known successful treatment for Hirschsprung's Disease is the surgical removal of the affected segment of colon. If you know of any natural treatments, please email me, or start up a forum thread!

    *Please know that I am not a medical doctor or a health practitioner. I cannot diagnose your stomach problems nor can I guarantee a cure. I am here to share my knowledge, which applications have worked for me and to offer suggestions of where you may go physically, emotionally and spiritually for healing and self-empowerment. If you choose to explore alternative medicine, do not independently stop taking your prescribed medications. Always consult with your current doctor as well as your new practitioner when changing your medical program. Find a Naturopath near you.

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