Potty humor headlines are a common reaction to stories involving feces, but it was no laughing matter for a 24-year-old autistic man when he became plagued with a condition known as a megacolon. Per Fox News, the unnamed Londoner suffers from chronic constipation, and this has sent him to the hospital several times. However, none of his other hospital visits were for anything nearly as severe as the megacolon that almost killed him.
When his recent troubles began, the man had a week of diarrhea and stomach pain. Despite this, a CT scan confirmed the presence of a megacolon, also known as a megarectum, which is a condition that involves an overly full, perforated bowel. Doctors initially tried to treat the megacolon with oral laxatives, but this wasn’t enough to stop the situation from escalating.
Two days after beginning the laxatives, the man was diagnosed with a reduced level of consciousness and stomach inflammation. The medical staff at London’s Newham University Hospital ran a few new tests and determined that kidney failure had begun because the now substantially perforated bowel was making the patient’s blood too acidic.
Too far gone for a series of enemas, the man had only one option for survival: an emergency surgery known as the Hartmann Procedure, reports Newsweek. Surgeons re-plumbed his bowels with the procedure and closed the tear in his bowel, presumably after they emptied the overflowing feces that had caused his rectum to dilate by 18 cm.
Although the man made a full recovery, it’s likely that he may face future issues of a similar nature. Chronic constipation and other gastrointestinal problems are common for individuals on the spectrum. A study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health indicated that autistic people are “more common in the constipation clinic than in the general population.” The study further points out the theory that slow transit constipation “may be inborn” for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Another study published by the same organization pointed out that approximately 4 million Americans battle chronic constipation. Of these, at least half require medical intervention in the form of laxatives and cathartics. Every year there are 92,000 hospitalizations due to constipation and at least 900 people die as a result.
According to Stat News, at least 16 percent of Americans and 33 percent of people over the age of 60 have chronic constipation issues. Related issues that can affect people of all ages are caused by a wide range of factors, including emotional trauma, certain medications, reduced fiber intake, lack of daily exercise, a low-carb diet and undergoing cancer treatment. In other words, it would be wise for everyone to keep an eye on their bathroom habits to help ensure they don’t end up suffering from a perforated bowel like the unfortunate Londoner with severe chronic constipation.