Constipation – causes, side effects and treatments at NaturalPedia.com

Thursday, February 22, 2018 by

Constipation refers to when an individual has three or fewer bowel movements weekly. During this time, the stool may be hard and dry.

It can often be difficult and painful to pass dry stool. However, it is normal to experience constipation several times in your life. This condition is rarely serious, and it only lasts for a short period.

Take note that you do not need to have a bowel movement daily. However, if your bowel habits change, consult a healthcare professional.

Known side effects of constipation

Side effects of constipation include:

  • Abdominal bloating which may occasionally cause distension
  • Anal bleeding or fissures from the trauma caused by hard feces
  • Colonic perforation (occurs rarely)
  • Hard or small feces
  • Lower abdominal discomfort
  • Occasional diarrhea (when hard stool obstructs the colon)
  • Psychological distress or obsession with having to go to the bathroom
  • Possible aggravation of diverticular disease, hemorrhoids, and rectal prolapse
  • “Sense of incomplete evacuation,” that is, the feeling that you still need to “go,” even after finishing
  • Sporadic bowel movements
  • Straining when going to the bathroom

Risk factors for constipation may include:

  • Age – Constipation is more common among the elderly.
  • A change in routine – Normal bowel movements depends on the regular and rhythmic contraction of the bowels.
  • Illness – A period of illness, such as one that requires hospitalization and bed-rest.
  • Insufficient water – The fiber in feces plumps up with water, and a high-fiber diet may cause constipation if an individual does not consume enough water.
  • Lack of regular exercise – One of the common causes of constipation.
  • Low-fiber diet – Fiber, which is indigestible, adds bulk to feces. This makes it easier to push along the digestive tract.
  • Pregnancy – Hormones, reduced activity, and the pressure of the growing uterus against the intestines may cause constipation.
  • “Putting off” going to the toilet – Not going to the toilet when needed extracts more water from the stools, and this it makes it harder to pass them.
  • Some medications – Includes narcotics (particularly codeine), antidepressants, iron supplements, calcium-channel blockers (antihypertensives, particularly verapamil), and non-magnesium antacids may slow bowel movements.

Body systems harmed by constipation

Some of the body systems harmed by constipation include:

  • Fecal impaction – Refers to when the lower bowel and rectum is so packed with feces that the muscles of the bowels are unable to push it out.
  • Fecal incontinence – When the bowel is overfull, it can result in the “involuntary ‘dribbling’ of diarrhea.”
  • Hemorrhoids – Constantly straining to open the bowel can damage the blood vessels of the rectum.
  • Rectal prolapse – When the constant straining pushes a section of the rectal lining out of the anus.
  • Urinary incontinence – The constant straining may weaken the pelvic floor muscles, which makes the involuntary passing of urine more likely, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent constipation

These foods or nutrients may help prevent constipation:

  • Oatmeal – Oats contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. The former “adds bulk to stool and helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines,” while the latter “dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material.” Both types of fiber work together to help “bulk up stool, soften it, and make it easier to pass.”
  • Oranges – A large orange contains four grams (g) of fiber and only 86 calories. Citrus fruits also contain a flavonol called naringenin, which can function as a laxative and help treat constipation.
  • Prunes/dried plums – Rich in fiber, prunes contain a nutrient that increases the bulk of your stool.
  • Water – Water can help relieve constipation, and it “helps the stool move easily through the colon.” The colon reabsorbs water, and if you’re dehydrated, your stool will be “harder and more difficult to pass.”

Treatments, management plans for constipation

The following natural home remedies can help treat constipation:

  • Exercise – Regular exercise will help the body move food quicker. Try to at least go for a daily walk.
  • Acupressure – This can help stimulate the digestive system. Use your thumb and apply pressure at the spot four finger-widths above the wrist on the back of the forearm. Do this for two minutes daily.
  • Never force a bowel movement – Straining yourself while on the toilet can cause hemorrhoids or anal fissures. This might narrow the anal opening and cause constipation.

Where to learn more

Summary

Constipation refers to when an individual has three or fewer bowel movements weekly. During this time, the stool may be hard and dry.

It can often be difficult and painful to pass dry stool. However, it is normal to experience constipation several times in your life. This condition is rarely serious, and it only lasts for a short period.

Side effects of constipation include abdominal bloating, bleeding or fissures from the trauma caused by hard feces and colonic perforation.

Risk factors for constipation may include age, a change in routine, and illness.

Oatmeal, oranges, prunes, and water may help prevent constipation

Exercise, acupressure, and not forcing bowel movements can help treat constipation.

Sources include

MedlinePlus.gov

MedicineNet.com

BetterHealth.VIC.gov.au

Health.com

BestHealthMag.ca



Comments

comments powered by Disqus