Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problem and is defined as having bowel movements that come less often than normal. It can be identify with symptoms like constipation, stools are usually hard to pass, small in size, dry, and difficult to eliminate. In fact, many individuals who are constipated find it painful to have a bowel movement and often experience bloating, straining, and feeling of a full bowel.
Causes of Constipation:
Constipation occurs when the colon (large intestine) absorbs too much water or in the case of reduced intestinal smooth muscle contractility, which causes the stool to move too slowly through the colon. As a consequence, stools become dry and hard. Many factors have been identified as contributing to constipation such as:
• Low fiber diet
• Not having enough liquids
• Lack of physical activities
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Abuse of laxatives
• Poor bowel habits
• Hormonal disturbances
• Feeding or swallowing difficulties
• Change in the lifestyle or routine
• Mechanical compression
• Problems with the rectum and colon
• Consuming large amounts of dairy products
• Not going to the toilet when to feel like passing stool or have a bowel movement
• Loss of body salts
• Specific diseases such as metabolic and endocrine disorders, neurological disorders, and conditions that affect organ systems
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms and complications of constipation can include:
• Having dry, hard, or lumpy stools
• Have a feeling like your stomach is not clear even after passing the stool
• Need to strain to have bowel movements
• Abdominal pain or swollen abdomen
• Poor appetite
• Blood with bowel movements
• Painful bowel movements
• Having cramping pain
• Acid indigestion (more frequent heartburn)
There are many factors that may contribute to constipation. However, ensuring an adequate amount of fluid and fiber in the diet may help to prevent this condition.
• Aim to drink plenty of fluids: It is suggested to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. It is important to consult with the provider in case of chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and congestive heart failure before increasing fluids.
• Eat a healthy diet: Increase fiber intake in your diet; it passes through the gut undigested. It keeps the content of bowel moving and leads to regular bowel motions. It also softens the stools, making them easier to pass through the colon. Eat high fiber food such as raw vegetables, whole grain bread, raisins, bran cereals, and fresh fruits. Increase fiber intake slowly as a rapid increase in dietary fiber can cause acidity and discomfort. Remember do not increase the amount of fiber in your diet if you cannot drink the recommended fluids. Sugar free candy might be helpful for treating constipation.
Myths and facts:
There is always some misconception about constipation. Some of them might be true, but some might be completely a myth. Some of the common myths and facts are as follows:
Myth: Constipation creates toxins and health problems.
Fact: There is no evidence exists that the body absorbs toxins from stools during constipation. It does cause any health problem as some people believe that it can cause colon cancer and asthma.
Myth: Necessary to have bowel movements daily.
Fact: Not having a bowel movement every day does not necessarily signify constipation. Having fewer than three bowel movements per week is constipation. Having less than one bowel movement per week is considered to be severely constipated.
Diagnosis of disease
If constipation is a problem, see your physician.
• X-ray of the abdomen: It is done when there is a large amount of stool being retained, or if there is an obstruction in the abdomen that may contribute to constipation.
• Physical examination: It includes an abdominal and rectal test. It detects the presence of hard stools in your intestines, presence of unusual masses in the stomach, looking for signs of anemia, liver enlargement, weight loss, or a palpable colon.
• Diagnostic testing: Colonoscopy by using a lighted tube with the camera attached to the end to collect the view of the large intestine. However, it is not routinely recommended for all patients with constipation.
Treatment for constipation
• Fiber products: A diet rich in fiber can reduce mild symptoms of constipation by making bowel movements softer and larger. Insoluble fiber food such as bran cereals are also helpful. Soluble fibers like guar gum can also reduce constipation signs. There are a variety of preparations that can be used to suit one's preferences. It is suggested to take 20-25 mg of fiber a day.
• Laxatives: Most of these laxatives helps stimulates the small intestine to secrete more water to make bowel movements softer and larger. Some are irritants that cause the lining of the intestine to contract to help to push out the fecal matter. Whereas, some laxatives functions by pulling water back into the large intestine to ease transit. Laxative herbal tea is an effective and easy way to get rid of constipation.
• If a person can’t strain, then enemas and stool softeners can be taken into consideration to increase the water quantity in the stools causing it to become soft.
Steps to improve the health
• Eat meals at regular times. Add more fruit, vegetables, and whole-meal bread in your diet.
• Try to go to the toilet each day.
• Do exercise daily. Take a brisk walk of 30 minutes every day.
• Try to drink several cups of water in the morning. One can also have herbal laxative tea or anti-constipation tea to calm your symptoms of constipation.
Important things to know
Consult your physician if you don’t get relief from constipation after using home remedies.