DEALING WITH CONSTIPATION, SYMPTOMS, CAUSES, AND REMEDIES



Constipation is a condition of the digestive system where an individual has hard feces that are difficult to expel. In most cases, this occurs because the colon has absorbed too much water from the food that is in the colon.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of constipation are increased difficulty and straining when passing stools.

Passing fewer stools than usual can be a sign of constipation.

Other symptoms include:

stomach ache
stomach cramps
feeling bloated and nauseous
losing appetite
Causes

Constipation happens when the colon absorbs too much water. This can occur if the muscles in the colon are contracting slowly or poorly, causing the stool to move too slowly and lose more water.

These are the most common causes of constipation:

1) Lack of fiber in the diet

People whose diets include a good quantity of fiber are significantly less likely to suffer from constipation.

It is important to consume foods rich in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Fiber promotes bowel movements and prevents constipation.

Foods that are low in fiber include high-fat foods, such as cheese, meat, and eggs.

2) Physical inactivity

Constipation can occur if someone becomes too physically inactive. This is especially the case in older adults.

For individuals who have been bedridden for a long time, perhaps for several days or weeks, their risk of having constipation is significantly increased. Experts are not sure why. Some believe that physical activity keeps the metabolism high, making the processes in the body happen more rapidly.

Older adults tend to have a more sedentary life compared with younger people and are therefore at higher risk of constipation. Physically active people are much less likely to become constipated than inactive people.

3) Medications

The most common medications to cause constipation are:

narcotic (opioid) pain drugs including codeine (Tylenol), oxycodone (Percocet), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
antidepressants including amitriptyline (Elavil) and imipramine (Tofranil)
anticonvulsants including phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol) iron supplements
calcium channel blocking drugs including diltiazem (Cardizem) and nifedipine (Procardia)
aluminum-containing antacids including Amphojel and Basaljel
diuretics including chlorothiazide (Diuril)
4) Milk

Some people become constipated when they consume milk and dairy products.

5) Irritable bowel syndrome

People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) get constipation much more frequently, compared with the rest of the population.

6) Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings about hormonal changes that can make a woman more susceptible to constipation. Also, the uterus may compress the intestine, slowing down the passage of food.

7) Aging

As a person gets older, the metabolism slows down, resulting in less intestinal activity. The muscles in the digestive tract do not work as well as they used to.

8) Changes in routine

When a person travels, their normal routine changes. This can affect the digestive system, which sometimes results in constipation. Meals are eaten at different times, or a person might go to bed, get up, and go to the toilet at different times. All these changes can raise the risk of constipation.

9) Overuse of laxatives

Some people believe a person should go to the toilet at least once a day - this is not true. However, to make sure this happens, some people self-medicate with laxatives.

Laxatives are effective at helping bowel movements. However, using them regularly allows the body to get used to their action and gradually the dose needs to increase to get the same effect.

Laxatives can be habit-forming. When a person becomes dependent on them, there is a significant risk of constipation when they are stopped.

10) Not going to the toilet when needed

If individuals ignore the urge to have a bowel movement, the urge can gradually go away until the individual no longer feels the need to go. The longer it is delayed, the drier and harder the stool will become.

11) Not drinking enough water

If constipation is already present, drinking more liquids might not relieve it. However, regularly drinking plenty of water reduces the risk of constipation.

Many sodas and drinks contain caffeine which can cause dehydration and worsen constipation. Alcohol also dehydrates the body and should be avoided by individuals who are constipated or very susceptible to constipation.

12) Problems with the colon or rectum

Tumors can compress or restrict the passages and cause constipation. Also, scar tissue, diverticulosis, and abnormal narrowing of the colon or rectum, known as colorectal stricture.

People with Hirschsprung disease are susceptible to constipation (a birth defect in which some nerve cells are absent in the large intestine).

Natural remedies

There are a few ways to ease the symptoms of constipation without using medication.

These include:

Increasing fiber intake: People with constipation should eat between 18 and 30 grams (g) of fiber every day. Fresh fruits and vegetables and fortified cereals have high fiber content.
Drinking water: Consuming lots of water can help to rehydrate the body.
Bulking agents: Adding these to your diet can help soften stools and make them easier to pass. Examples of bulking agents include wheat bran.
Regular exercise: This can help to make bodily processes more regular, including the passing of stools.
Routine: Having a place and time of day where you can put aside time to visit the bathroom without forcing a stool.
Avoiding holding in stools: Responding to your body's natural urges to pass stools when they happen is key to reducing the impact of constipation.
Elevate your feet: Place your feet short platform, such as a step, and make sure the knees are above hip-level while passing stools. This can reduce constipation.

Photo credits : indusantime.com

@Clinicgists

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