Constipation is the common disease faced by many across the globe due to many reasons such as lack of proper diet, improper diet timings, and lifestyle. In medical terms constipation is defined as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation generally is the slow movement of stool through the colon.
Constipation carries different meanings to each individual. For many people, it simply is taken as irregular stools. For few it means hard stools, strain during passing of stools, or a sense of partial emptying of the bowel. The cause of each of these types of constipation is by all means different, and the approach to each should be tailored to the specific type of constipation.
Constipation also increases with age. A healthy adult should have bowel movements between three and 21 times per week; unfortunately this is not the case with 50 percent of people.
What causes constipation?
In theory, constipation arises by the slow passage of digesting food through the intestine. Nevertheless, more than 95% of the time, the slowing occurs in the colon. There are many causes for constipation. One amongst them is medication.
The common medications that lead to constipation include:
- Narcotic pain medications
- Iron supplements
- Calcium channel blocking drugs
- Antacids that contain aluminum
The other causes of constipation
Habitual suppression of bowel movements
According to science, bowel movements can be controlled. Occasional bowel suppression on demand is acceptable, but doing this too often can cause constipation.
Fiber is essential for a soft, bulky stool. Diets less in fiber can lead to constipation. The best natural remedy for constipation is to have rich fiber food such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Over use of laxatives is also a cause to constipation. A study has shown that regular use of stimulant laxatives may damage the nerves and muscles of the colon, which is believed to cause constipation.
Hormones disorders related to thyroid, menstruation and pregnancy can also lead to constipation.
Symptoms vary depending on bowel habits, diet, and age but few generalizations can be made , which are as follows:
- Irregular and difficult passing of stool
- Passage of hard stool after extended straining
- Sudden change in bowel habits
- Gastric associated problems
- Increased abdomen, pain in the head and less appetite
- Problems associated with tongue, breath and taste
- Difficulty in starting or finishing the movement of stool
Treatment for constipation
There are many treatments for constipation remedy and depend on the type and severity.
The best way to fight constipation is increase dietary fiber such as fruits and vegetables. Minimum of five servings of fruits or vegetables per day should be taken.
Lubricant laxatives consist of mineral oil either as plain oil or an emulsion. The oil stays in the intestine, coats the particles of stool, and most probably obstructs the removal of water from the stool leading to free bowel movements. Mineral oil is normally used as a short term remedy.
There are different types of laxatives based on the symptoms and individual requirement, such as
- Emollient laxatives (stool softeners)
- Hyperosmolar laxatives
- Saline laxatives
- Stimulant laxatives
There are many kinds of enemas. All enemas stimulate the colon to contract and discard stool and give relief for constipation. The regular use of enemas can disturb the fluids and electrolytes in the body.