Traumatic Brain Injury and Intestinal Dysfunction

After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), patients can experience a number of different side effects. One of the most common is intestinal dysfunction, leading to stomach ulcers, food intolerance, or gastritis. Just as every brain injury differs, side effects can vary depending on the patient. 

Though the intensity of intestinal dysfunction differs for each patient, they can be uncomfortable and impact recovery after a TBI. Fortunately, there are steps patients can assist in recovery. 


What is the Purpose of the Digestive Tract?

The gastrointestinal tract breaks down food into nutrients used to fuel the body. It is also responsible for trapping and disposing of harmful substances, which is essential for our general health. 

Many people are not aware of the strong connection between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. They both communicate with each other to promote proper digestion through hormones and nerves.  


Can a Brain Injury Cause Digestive Problems?

We mentioned that brain injuries are tied to digestive problems but why? The cause and contributing factors continue to be researched

Studies show that TBIs are related to intestinal permeability, allowing digestive substances to pass through the intestines. This can lead to high blood sugar, sepsis, and organ failure. 

Some patients with a TBI can experience intestinal permeability just six hours after suffering their injury. Others may have a delayed onset, sometimes weeks or months after their TBI. 

In addition to intestinal permeability, other intestinal tract issues include stomach ulcers and gastritis. Symptoms experienced can be intensified by psychological distress many TBI patient experience. 

Psychological stress can affect the immune symptom, which can further cause intestinal distress. A strong immune system assists in preventing complications after suffering a TBI. 

Why is a strong immune system essential? The immune system is responsible for the substances that pass through the intestinal tract, eliminating harmful substances from passing into the body. 

How Can TBI Patients Manage Intestinal Dysfunction?

First, TBI patients should consult with their physician or a gastrointestinal specialist to diagnose any underlying condition for a proper diagnosis. The right brain injury rehab center will have physicians that can help diagnose intestinal dysfunction. 

Physicians can use medications and diet to help manage symptoms depending on the condition. A diet that boosts the immune system is vital for TBI patients. 

A high-fiber diet with plenty of fruit, avocados, and lentils can be helpful for some patients. Another benefit of a more bland diet can include lean meats, beans, or carrots. These foods can be easier to digest but also have plenty of nutrients. 

Patients should also avoid excessive caffeine, dairy, and greasy foods that can worsen intestinal symptoms. Proper hydration is also important, so TBI patients should drink plenty of water. 

Rest is also essential for brain injury patients. It helps both the body and brain heal. With medications and a proper diet, many patients can minimize symptoms of intestinal dysfunction. 


Neurological Disorder Rehabilitation

Where Can I Go if My Loved One Needs Neurological Disorder Rehabilitation?

NeuLife Rehabilitation is one of the largest post-acute rehabilitation centers in Florida and the southeast United States. We offer a wide range of rehabilitation programs for patients who have suffered a catastrophic brain injury. 

Our programs are customized to meet the needs of each patient. Our care plans are structured so that our patients reach their highest level of individual functioning and independence. The ultimate goal is community reintegration which is accomplished through the work of our clinical experts and our experience in treating a wide range of TBI patients. 

If you are interested in our services, schedule a tour today! 


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


Dedicated to providing the highest caliber of care to individuals with brain injuries, NeuLife Rehabilitation is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
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