My bowel is playing up, what could it be? Mr Peter Goodfellow answers your FAQs
Mr Peter Goodfellow, Consultant General & Colorectal Surgeon
Claremont Clinics: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
There are many causes for our bowel habit to change and many types of bowel habit. The average person in the UK opens their bowel once a day but this varies widely with some people opening their bowel weekly and some 4 or 5 times a day and this can be normal for them.
However when our bowel habit changes this is one of the symptoms which are generally referred for investigation. There are many causes for a change to the bowel habit, and most are not sinister, but bowel cancers are one cause to be excluded.
Common causes are dietary factors, infections in the bowel, irritability in the bowel, diverticular disease (pockets on the bowel wall) and no specific causes seen. Less common are inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis), polyps and cancers.
Generally in the UK it is now recommended that if you have a change to the way your bowel works that persists for longer than three weeks then you should consult your doctor to consider referral.
Most people worry about developing a bowel cancer and the commonest symptoms of this are:
These symptoms should be taken more seriously as you get older and when they persist despite simple treatments.
After a referral, your consultant will be seen and your symptoms discussed but it is likely you will be booked for a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.
At Claremont Private Hospital these tests would be performed in our brand new state-of-the-art Endoscopy Suite which has just been opened in June 2017. In the new suite we perform colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and gastroscopy.
A colonoscopy is a test where the endoscopist looks into your colon. The colon is sometimes called the large intestine or large bowel. The colon is the part of the gut which comes after the small intestine. The last part of the colon leads into the rectum where faeces (stools or motions) are stored before being passed out from the anus. A flexible sigmoidoscopy inspects the left side of the colon alone and is less invasive.
A colonoscope is a thin, flexible, telescope. It is about as thick as a little finger. It is passed through the anus and into the colon. It can be advanced part way or all the way round the colon as far as the caecum (where the small and large intestine meet). In most cases experienced endoscopists can view the last part of the small bowel as well.
A gastroscopy is a test where the endoscopist looks into the upper part of your gut (the upper gastrointestinal tract). The upper gut consists of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and duodenum. The operator uses an endoscope to look inside your gut. Therefore, the test is sometimes called endoscopy. An endoscope is a thin, flexible, telescope. It is thinner than a little finger. The endoscope is passed through the mouth, into the oesophagus and down towards the stomach and duodenum.
The test is usually carried out with either a local anaesthetic throat spray, or a light sedative.
If you don't have health insurance, a private consultation with Mr Goodfellow at Claremont costs £200 and should you require it, a Colonoscopy costs £1554 or a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy costs £1234. For more information or to book an appointment with Mr Goodfellow, just call our Private Patient Team on 0114 263 2114. You will need a referral letter from your GP or you can see one of our Private GPs if you prefer.
Copyright Peter Goodfellow, 2017