Traumatic brain injury as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” TBI can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning. The specific symptoms that develop because of a TBI will depend on a variety of contributing factors, such as the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. The nature of the symptoms will vary as some TBI symptoms may appear immediately and dissipate rather quickly, while others could present several days or weeks later, and some experienced symptoms may evolve over time. Hence, symptoms that present with TBIs will range in severity and duration. As TBI research advances, our knowledge regarding the effects of TBI grows. For example, researchers have discovered a clear connection between TBI and intestinal changes.
TBI Intestinal Issues
The precise symptoms that develop because of TBI will be unique to each person. Nevertheless, many TBI survivors experience symptoms of dysfunction of the gastrointestinal tract. Common TBI-related intestinal issues occur due to reduced intestinal contractile activity and absorption, which can manifest as abdominal distension (swelling) and vomiting. Holistic Primary Care explains “Gastrointestinal inflammation is a common sequela of traumatic brain injury, and it can lead to a breakdown of intestinal barrier function and a vicious cycle of chronic inflammation along the brain-gut axis.” Additionally, TBI can provoke an increase in intestinal permeability, which could lead to symptoms such as bacterial translocation, sepsis, and eventually multi-system organ failure. Increased intestinal permeability directly relates to the pathogenesis of diabetes and autoimmune diseases (e.g., Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, etc.). The scientific reason for increased intestinal permeability following a TBI remains unknown. The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) researchers have, however, found a two-way link between TBI and intestinal changes, which may contribute to increased infection and may worsen chronic brain damage.
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If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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