Inflammation of small intestine is also known as enteritis. Small intestine is a part between the stomach and large intestine. It is the longest part of the alimentary system. The length of small intestine is almost 20 feet. It is divided into three parts; the duodenum extending from lower end of stomach, jejunum and the last part ileum connected to the large intestine.
As with any organ of the body, small intestine too can become inflamed due to variety of reasons. It can be viral or bacterial infection, inflammation due to radiation therapy, trauma, surgery, autoimmune disease etc. The main symptoms of enteritis are vomiting, pain in abdomen, nausea, and diarrhea.
Inflammation caused due to viral infection usually subsides within few days without any treatment. However, bacterial infection which prolongs for more than four or five days needs medical attention.
What Causes Inflammation Of Small Intestine?
Vide varieties of pathogens and conditions are responsible for inflammation of small intestine. In majority of cases there is associated inflammation of either gastric region (gastroenteritis) or inflammation of the colon (enterocolitis).
- Infectious causes: Bacteria or virus can damage and proliferate into the lining of small intestine. The pathogens can enter into the intestine through contaminated water and food. Poor hygiene, improper handling of food, eating raw food all can make a person susceptible to food poisoning. The most common bacteria that may cause enteritis are salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Shigella, Yersinia, and staphylococcus aureus.
- Inflammation of small intestine due to radiation: Many people, who undergo radiation therapy to treat cancer, suffer from enteritis. Radiation kills the rapidly dividing cancer cells. However, together with cancer cells, radiation also destroys healthy cells. People who undergo radiation therapy for abdomen and pelvis are at risk.
- Medications: especially anti inflammatory drugs that are consumed for long time can damage the internal lining of small intestine, including stomach.
- Autoimmune disease: Immune mediated reaction in the body can cause inflammation in the small intestine. It may cause conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ileitis in case of ulcerative colitis.
Certain investigative procedures or surgery can damage the intestine leading to its inflammation and sometimes even hemorrhage which may be life threatening.
Signs And Symptoms Of Inflamed Small Intestine
Symptoms of inflammation of small intestine can be acute taking few hours or after few days. The onset of symptoms can be mild or severe depending on the underlying cause. Prominent symptoms that indicate inflammation of small intestine are as follows:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea which can be with mucus and blood.
- Pain and cramps in abdomen. Pain usually aggravates after eating food.
- Later on in chronic cases patient may present with signs of nutritional deficiency due to reduced absorption.
- Long standing inflammation can cause weight loss.
Natural Remedies For Inflamed Small Intestine
Mild inflammation of small intestines heals on its own within few days without any specific treatment. However, if there is diarrhea, patient must consume enough water and fluids to replenish lost body fluid and salts. He can drink one glass of lemon juice three to four times in a day. He can also drink electrolyte solution which consists of water and salts such as sodium and potassium that are essential in dehydration. If diarrhea and vomiting are severe, patient may need intravenous fluids to replenish lost fluid.
The source of inflammation needs to be addressed at the same time. For example if the cause is bacterial infection, antibiotic treatment may be necessary for few days or week. It will eradicate the harmful bacteria. In case of radiation enteritis, person should eat low fiber diet on the first few days after the therapy.
He should avoid eating certain foods that worsen the symptoms. He must avoid milk and dairy products, nuts and seeds, raw vegetables, tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, spices and oily food. During this period he can eat applesauce, bananas, buttermilk, yogurt, boiled potatoes, fish, cooked vegetables etc.