Understanding Constipation In Detail

Understanding constipation in detail

A person is constipated when the digesting food moves slowly via any part of the digestive system. Often, the slowing down takes place in the colon. It’s not a disease in itself but is seen as a symptom of gastrointestinal issue that 42 million people in the United States are affected by, comprising 15% of the entire population as per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Bowel movements in an individual changes as a person grows older. Constipation is a digestive issue that takes place due to irregular bowel movements in a person (less than three bowel movements in a week). At this point, stools tend to be hardened and cause a lot of discomfort to be passed.

Symptoms to be on the lookout for
Some individuals are constipated for a short time, while, in some people, this problem continues causing a lot of pain, distress, discomfort, and dissatisfaction. The person who has been constipated for a while can face complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal impaction and rectal prolapse.

The symptoms that one should be on the lookout for, when constipated are:

  1. Feeling uneasy in the lower section of the abdomen
  2. Feeling dissatisfied on the incomplete emptying
  3. Straining to pass stools
  4. Belly bloating
  5. Hardened small stools
  6. Distressed psychologically
  7. Obsessed and overstressed about bowel movements
  8. Alternately being affected by diarrhea.

Treatments available

In cases where medication seems to be ineffective on the condition, or the condition is repetitive, uncertain, worsening or leading to loss of body weight, persons in discomfort needs to seek immediate medical attention. Thereafter the possible medical treatment given could include medicines, enemas, suppositories, high in fiber diets or in the worst-case scenario a surgery.

Laxatives can also be used to provide the relief needed however before starting the course it is necessary to consult the doctor. Senna, which is a herbal laxative, also treats constipation. It can trigger the nerves in the digestive system to accelerate the bowel movements. This laxative can be administered orally or rectally.

Types of constipation

There are two types of constipation; chronic constipation and acute constipation, both of which are very different from each other.

  1. Acute constipation: demands immediate medical attention as it may be a condition caused by a serious problem. This constipation lasts for months and sometimes even prolonged to years.
  2. Chronic constipation: if home remedies or simple medication provides the relief necessary then you need not worry! But if u experience rectal bleeding, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, etc., then you need to rush to a doctor to acquire the appropriate treatment against the trouble.

To do list

Almost everyone goes through this condition at some point of time. The following things can be done if one is constipated:

  • Add 2-4 glasses of water to your usual water intake
  • Begin the day with a hot glass of beverage that can ease the passage in the rectum
  • Addition of fruits and vegetables to your meals
  • Have prunes
  • When you work out or do a gentle exercise the muscles of the intestine are activated
  • Do not delay your visits to the toilet.
  • Probiotics cures chronic constipation therefore, consuming probiotic foods or taking a supplement can ease the situation.  

A person suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) should follow a low-FODMAP that is, Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Foods that contain prebiotic fibers relieves a constipated person as they improve the digestive health of person balancing friendly bacteria. Similarly, magnesium citrate supplements provide relief to some extent.

Call the doctor

A call to the doctor is demanded if constipation is accompanied by belly pain, completely unable to pass stools. Also, a call to the clinic should be considered if you are going through this condition for the first time, experiencing pain with the bowel movement, drastic unplanned loss of weight, bloody stools, change in shape, size and consistency of the stools has changed.

Causes of constipation
As said before, constipation is not a disorder but is a symptom of various conditions like hypothyroidism, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, pregnancy, bowel obstruction, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, hypercalcemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke. On one hand, the medications that can cure acute illnesses can, on the other, contribute as causes of constipation. Some examples of causes of constipation are as follows.

  1. Antacids whose composition comprises of aluminum hydroxide and calcium carbonate.
  2. Antispasmodic drugs
  3. Antidepressants
  4. Iron tablets
  5. Anticonvulsant drugs
  6. Diuretics
  7. Painkillers
  8. Blood pressure and allergy drugs

Over abusing laxatives makes the person either highly dependent on them for bowel movement or may make the intestines insensitive to them, making the person unable to move the bowels even after being given the laxative.

Babies and children often complain about being constipated. The main causes for this situation could be a poor diet as children who are overfed are those who frequently get constipated as they have a minimum fluid intake. Even if children have a lot of milk in their diet, their likelihood of being constipated is at a higher rate. Kids also experience constipation due to toilet training and toilet habits. Hence, as adults, we need to educate our kids on the significance of the visit to the toilet.

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