Your colon (large intestine) is a part of your digestive system. At one end, it attaches to your small intestine. At the other, it attaches to the rectum and anus.

Large amounts of bacteria are present in the colon. Bacteria work to break down any remaining undigested food materials. The colon also absorbs water and transports the remaining waste to the rectum, where it’s expelled as stool.

The average colon size is 120 to 150 centimeters (roughly 47 to 60 inches) in length. However, an individual with a redundant colon has an abnormally long colon, especially in the final section (called descending colon). A redundant colon also has additional loops or twists.

Other names for a redundant colon include tortuous colon or elongated colon.

Some people may have a redundant colon and never experience symptoms associated with it. Others may have increased bloating, constipation, and fecal impaction. Impaction is caused by large, hard, dry stool that stays in the rectum, making it difficult to pass.

If left untreated, constipation can cause complications, including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or rectal prolapse, which causes the intestine to protrude from the anus.

People with a redundant colon are at increased risk for colonic volvulus. This is when the colon twists around itself. Colonic volvulus slows or completely stops the flow of stool, leading to a colonic obstruction, and is often a surgical emergency.

Redundant sigmoid colon could lead to sigmoid volvulus. The sigmoid colon is the part of the colon closest to the rectum. Symptoms of sigmoid volvulus include:

  • failing to pass a bowel movement in some time
  • distended, air-filled abdomen
  • lower abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Some people have a genetic predisposition for a redundant colon. If a family member has a redundant colon, you’re at greater risk for having one too. Others may have a redundant colon with no known cause.

Many people live with a redundant colon without ever knowing that they have one. It isn’t considered a medical emergency. However, having a redundant colon can increase your risk for some gastrointestinal-related conditions that could require medical treatment.

Seek emergency medical help if you experience:

  • extreme stomach or lower abdominal pain
  • no bowel movement for more than three days
  • vomiting a brown, stool-like substance

Redundant colon doesn’t always require medical intervention. Many people can live with a redundant colon without needing any treatments. Some severe cases (with recurring complications) do require surgical correction.

People with redundant colon have more colon length for digested food to travel and may be more likely to experience constipation. Consuming a diet high in fiber can reduce constipation. The added fiber will increase the stool’s bulk, stimulating the colon to move the stool more quickly.

Examples of high-fiber foods include:

  • beans
  • fruits
  • lentils
  • vegetables
  • whole-grain breads

The more processed a food is, the less fiber it likely has. The recommended daily amount of fiber is roughly 20 to 25 grams per day if you eat a 2,500-calorie diet. If you eat much less, slowly increase your intake.

Drinking plenty of water also helps to soften stools, making them easier to pass. If you continue having difficulty with constipation, talk to your doctor. They can recommend a fiber supplement or determine whether you may benefit from a laxative.