Fecal Tumors

When the obstruction which causes a delay in the movement of feces through the colon is permanent, the mass of accumulated feces may attain such a size as to be easily felt through the abdominal wall. Fecal tumors may generally be distinguished from other tumors by their doughy consistency, that is, their shape may be moulded by pressure with the fingers. Such forms sometimes disappear suddenly and may be broken up by the manipulation of the hands, or softened by means of enemas of warm water or warm oil. Sometimes a surgical operation is necessary for their removal.

The late Dr. Lawson Tait told the writer of a case to which he was called to operate for the removal of a large abdominal tumor, which proved to be a tumor of this sort. On opening the abdomen, the small intestine was found to be enormously distended just at the ileocecal valve. On inquiry, it was found that the patient, who was recently convalescent from typhoid fever, had swallowed rather rapidly a large quantity of milk. Suspicion at once arose in the mind of the surgeon that the mass might consist of undigested curds. With this idea in mind, he carefully manipulated the tumor with his fingers, and finally succeeded in breaking up the mass to such a degree that it became possible to push the fragments through the ileocecal valve, and thus a more serious operation was avoided.

Volvulus

Sometimes the processes which begin; in the intestine and work outward through the intestinal wall give rise to inflammatory changes in the membranous fold of mesentery to which the pelvic loop of the colon is attached. As a result the mesentery is gradually shortened until the ends of the loop are brought close together and fixed. With the colon in this position, there is a great risk of obstruction from the twisting of the loop, which occasionally happens, giving rise to what is known as volvulus. In a case of this kind prompt surgical relief is very essential. A short delay may give rise to gangrene of the intestine, and general peritonitis.

Disorders Of The Stomach

Although located at the other extremity of the digestive canal from the colon, the stomach is, nevertheless, in various ways and to a profound degree influenced by chronic constipation. Loss of appetite is a very common symptom in constipation, and so constipation is increased through the lack of the vigorous stimulation given to the movement of the intestine by the taking of food with relish.

Hyperhydrochloria, gastritis, and even ulceration in the stomach and duodenum are by many eminent medical men attributed to the stagnation of the intestinal contents.

Diseases Of The Heart And Blood Vessels

Palpitation of the heart is a common consequence of an acute accumulation of feces in the colon, probably the result of the excessive absorption of toxins to which such accumulations give rise.

Pseudo-angina pectoris, in which the patient suffers pain in the region of the heart entirely similar to those which occur in angina pectoris, are frequently associated with chronic constipation. Chronic constipation or the autointoxication result-ing from it may be regarded as a cause of true angina pectoris as well as of pseudo-angina. Arteriosclerosis affecting the vessels of the heart has been clearly shown by Bouchard and other authorities to be one of the common results of chronic constipation, and attacks of angina pectoris often appear among other symptoms of the degenerative changes which have taken place. Years ago Boix of Paris showed that the poisons produced by the colon bacillus are capable of producing these degenerative changes which result in sclerosis of the arteries of the liver, spleen, and other glands.

Premature Senility

The senile appearance of many persons who have long suffered from chronic constipation, as well as the steady decline of longevity in countries in which constipation is prevalent, is evidence of the mischievous results of the constant absorption of the poisons produced by colon germs which Metch-nikofr regards as the cause of old age. The pigmentation of the skin appearing first about the eyes and as brown spots upon the hands, the thinning of the skin of the hands and parchment-like appearance of the skin are familiar symptoms of senility induced by alimentary toxemia. It is highly important to note that these senile changes are not confined to the skin. The changes in the skin are only the external signs of similar degenerative changes taking place in the bloodvessels, liver, kidneys, and other vital internal parts.

Disease Of The Kidneys

The poisoning resulting in chronic constipation is frequently indicated by the appearance of albumen and casts in the urine. A long continuance of this poisoning gives rise to changes in the kidney, which are commonly known as Bright's disease. It is indeed quite possible that chronic constipation may be one of the most important of all causes of this terrible malady. Statistics of all civilized countries show that Bright's disease is increasing very rapidly. In the United States the number of persons dying of it is at the present time 2.31 times as great as thirty years ago. In certain cities the proportion is still higher, the increased mortality rate from this cause amounting to 164 per cent. The large use of meat in connection with this condition of constipation greatly aggravates the evils arising from this condition, because meat not only affords the poison-forming bacteria just the sort of material they require to promote their growth, but also introduces into the intestine in large numbers the most virulent forms of putrefactive bacteria.

Suppuration of the kidney, shown by pus in the urine as well as by local pains and other symptoms, is usually associated with chronic constipation. Infection of the kidney with colon germs may occur through the urinary tract, the germs travelling by the ureters to the kidney, or direct infection may occur. The bacteria which grow in the intestines, specially when their virulence is increased by stasis or stagnation, readily penetrate the walls of the intestine and adjacent organs. The right kidney lies in immediate proximity to the colon.

Bacteriological examination of the urine in cases of suppuration of the kidney often shows the presence of colon germs.