When your colon is distended, it means that a portion of your large intestine has become swollen in size. Often considered a form of intestinal pseudo-obstruction, this abnormal inflammation of colon places pressure on the intestinal walls and can eventually affect the overall process of digestion. And much like any other condition that concerns the body, symptoms of a distended colon vary from person to person.
One of the main symptoms of a distended colon is cramping. This is largely due to the effect the inflammation has on the muscles in the intestinal walls. As the colon suffers distention, it impinges on the contractions of the large intestines, causing them to spasm (a violent contraction). When this happens, you feel it as a sudden cramp.
It is also quite common for you to suffer from some level of abdominal swelling from a distended colon. If the colon enlarges in size, it creates an internal pressure that can often cause the sensation of bloating within your abdominal region. Usually, this is accompanied by a certain amount of tenderness within your midsection.
A distended colon can frequently bring with it constipation. If your colon becomes inflamed, the intestinal contractions that move stool through your digestive tract can begin to slowdown. As the stool passes at a delayed rate, the intestinal walls leach more and more fluid from your waste, causing it to become drier and harder than normal. This slows your bowel movements even more, inevitably prompting constipation.
While many people with a distended colon suffer from constipation, others actually experience diarrhea. In this situation, the inflammation causes the colon to contract more than it relaxes, moving stool at a much faster rate. Less liquid is leached from your waste, causing it to be loose and watery, which leads to diarrhea.
Since the colon is part of your digestive tract, the distention may cause you to experience the symptom of nausea. This nausea can range in intensity from subtle to severe, and can trigger periodic episodes of vomiting.
Though not necessarily as common as other symptoms of a distended colon, you can also suffer from a fever while dealing with this type of condition. The actual temperature of the fever really varies from person to person, but it's usually over 99 degrees F.