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Melanosis Coli

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is melanosis coli?

Melanosis coli is a condition that causes tissues in your colon to become darker. The tissues are normally pink. The color change happens after you use certain laxatives for several years to help you have a bowel movement. Melanosis coli is not cancer, and it does not increase your risk for cancer.

Digestive Tract

How is melanosis coli diagnosed and treated?

You will not have any signs or symptoms. The change in color is usually found during a routine colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a procedure used to check the colon for signs of cancer or other problems. A scope is inserted into the anus and guided up into the colon. Melanosis coli does not need to be treated. You will need to stop using laxatives regularly.

What can I do to prevent constipation?

Your colon may start to depend on laxatives if you have used laxatives for a long time. The following can help prevent constipation so you will not need to use laxatives to have a bowel movement:

  • Drink liquids as directed. Adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. Ask your healthcare provider which liquids to drink and how much to drink each day.
  • Eat high-fiber foods. This may help decrease constipation by adding bulk to your bowel movements. High-fiber foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, and beans. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you create a high-fiber meal plan.

  • Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can help stimulate your intestines. Ask which exercises are best for you.
  • Schedule a time each day to have a bowel movement. This may help train your body to have regular bowel movements. Bend forward while you are on the toilet to help move the bowel movement out. Sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes, even if you do not have a bowel movement.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have been taking large amounts of laxatives for many years and need help to stop.
  • You have constipation that does not get better or gets worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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