To many people, constipation might mean different things. But in simple terms, it is infrequent stools. To others, it is hard stools or difficulty when passing stools. Biologically, as food moves through the colon, it absorbs water as it forms stool. The contractions of the muscle in the colon help to push the stool towards the rectum. Before stool reaches the rectum, it is normally in solid state since most of the water is already absorbed .so when does constipation occur? Well, due to too much water absorption, stool becomes hard and dry. Therefore, it is not able to pass out of the human body during a bowel movement. Apart from that, constipation can also alternate with diarrhea. This normally occurs as part of irritable bowel syndrome. According to specialists, about ninety-five percent of adults have bowel movements between 3 and 21 times per week. This is considered very normal. However, it has been confirmed that most people do not have bowel movements daily neither do they have the same number of bowels per day. As a result of having fewer bowel movements per week, constipation occurs. This means that having less than a bowel movement per week can cause severe constipation.
Causes of Constipation
There are various reasons why one can experience constipation.frequelty, constipation that is caused by medication is over looker by people.yes, constipation can be caused by taking different types of medicines like,
- Antidepressants eg. amitriptyline
- Narcotic pain eg.codeine
- Anticonvulsants eg.phenytoin
- Iron supplements
- Aluminum contaqining antacids eg.amphojel
Apart from the medications listed above, there are other causes that can lead to constipation. The following are other causes of constipation,
- Habit: the bowel movements are under control, therefore the normal urge that people feel when they need to have a bowel movement can be suppressed. When a person frequently suppresses the urge to defecate and it can lead to a disappearance of urges as well as result in constipation.
- Diet: well, it is said that you are what you eat. This is where your diet comes to the picture. Most people take diets that very low in fiber. What they do not know is that fiber is very important in the diet since it helps to maintain a soft and bulky stool hence preventing constipation. Examples of natural sources of fiber are vegetables, fruits and whole grain as well.
- Laxatives: the over use of stimulant laxatives which include castor oil, certain herbs, can cause severe constipation. The association between the chronic use of stimulant laxatives and damage to the muscles of the colon and nerves leads to constipation. According to experts, styimulant laxatives should be used as a last resort after the failure of using non-stimulant treatments.
- Hormonal disorders: bowel movements can be affected by hormones, for example, very little thyroid hormone or very much parathyroid hormone. This can cause constipation. In addition, high level of progesterone and estrogen hormones which are produced during pregnancy can also result to constipation.
- Diseases that affect the colon: there are number of diseases which can affect the colon nerves or the function of the muscles that include scleroderma, diabetes, chagas diseases, and intestinal pseudo-obstruction, not to mention the rest. All the following diseases cause the colon to become narrow hence the colon blocks decreasing the flow of stool. This leads to constipation.
- Central nervous system diseases: sometimes constipation comes as a result of some brain and spinal cord diseases such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and Parkinson diseases.
- Colonic inertia: it is condition where the nerves or the muscles of the colon do not work as normal. This results to the contents of the colon not propelling through the colon as expected. It is not clear what really causes colonic inertia but in most cases it might be because of chronic use of stimulant laxatives.
- Pelvic floor dysfunction: it is a condition where the muscles of the lower pelvis which surround the rectum do not function as normal. The muscles are very critical for bowel movement. It is unclear why the muscles fail to function properly in some people. However, they can experience difficulties when passing stools even if everything else in normal.
Symptoms of Constipation
Your health is very important and as stated earlier, you are what you eat. How you lead your life style can cause you to experience constipation. It all depends with your diet, daily activities, and even age. Well, regular bowel movements might mean anything from three movements in a day to one per every three days. However, whew you start to experience hard, compacted stools which are difficult or even painful to pass, the urge to move the bowels, or when there is no movement at all over a period of 4 days for children and 3 days for adults, indicates that you are having constipation.
Constipation Home Remedies
With the above symptoms in mind, it is important to find the best remedies for constipation. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Bowel retraining – may provide relief for people who have gotten into the habit of ignoring the urge. If a tight schedule has produced a tight sphincter, it may help to sit on a toilet, with book in hand, about 20 minutes each morning to encourage a return of reflexes that have disappeared. Straining is not recommended, since it may lead to tightening of muscles that should be relaxed for comfortable defecation.
- Enemas – usually become attractive only when oral laxatives cannot do the job. Introducing water into the colon helps to stimulate defecation. "Disposable" enemas deliver a solution of highly concentrated, non absorbable salts into the rectum and sigmoid colon. These salts attract an outpouring of fluid into the bowel and thus promote bowel contraction.
- Oil containing enemas- are sometimes recommended as softeners for feces that have become hardened within the rectum.
- Molasses– If you are looking for herbal remedy for constipation that you can try at home, molasses is a good place to start. Mix 5 ounces of milk with two tablespoons of black-strap molasses and stir for a few minutes until the latter is properly dissolved. Drink this mixture before you go to bed every single night.
- Vegetable juice- Juice from vegetable, especially cabbage, will be of great help if you are suffering from constipation. For total relief, take 4 ounces of concentrated cabbage juice twice every day. In case you can't drink the bitter cabbage juice then no need to panic. You can always add 3 ounces of water in case it is too strong for you.
- Grapes- Fruits such as grapes are rich in fiber and thus make good herbal remedies for constipation. Place about 10 dried and seedless grapes in 8 ounces of milk. Heat this mixture until the milk starts to boil and strain the seedless grapes from the milk. Drink this milk as you eat the grapes if you need to do away with constipation.
- Olive oil and orange juice- You can treat constipation with some of the common items you purchase for your kitchen every day. A mixture of 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 ounces of orange juice and gulp the mixture on an empty stomach. You only need to take this mixture twice every week to be free of the constipation attacks.
- Fiber- Constipation always results from a diet that is low in fiber. This only means that adding fiber to your diet will add bulk and a soft texture to stool, making it easier to pass. Some of the foods that are rich in the recommended insoluble fiber are grains, vegetables and fruits. Eat more of brown rice and whole grain bread and constipation will be a thing of the past.
Diet for Constipation
Low fiber in the diet leads to constipation. Therefore it is advisable to take the following sources of fiber,
- fruits and vegetables
- wheat or oat bran
- Syllium seed (for example, Metamucil, Konsyl).
- Synthetic methyl cellulose (for example, Citrucel).
- Polycarbophil (for example, Equilactin, Konsyl Fiber).
However, it is good to note that high fiber diets can cause flatulence. This is because bacteria are present in the colon can digest fiber to a small content. To prevent this, for starters, take fiber at a low dose .you can increase every one to two weeks until you are sure that the desired effect on the stool is accomplished.
Prevention of Constipation
There are various ways that use can prevent from having constipation. These ways are:
- Increase the quality of fruits as well as vegetables to your diet.try taking a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The fiber adds bulk to the stool and the water softens the stool hence prevent constipation.
- Exercise can also help to prevent constipation. According to specialists, people who are active are not likely to suffer from cnostiaption. This is because it has no effect on the frequency of bowel movements,
- Most people who have undergone surgery of the colon are likely to suffer form constipation. This is because during surgery, most part of the colon is removed expect the rectum. Therefore if you are to undergo surgery, ensure that you are checked and there are no diseases of the small intestinal muscles.
- Avoid taking of medication that can cause constipation. There are a number of prescribed drugs that are used to treat medical diseases which may have a side effect. Some of the side effects can be loose stools or diarrhea. Examples of such drugs include Antidepressants e.g. Amitriptyline, iron supplements, and others.
- Taking biofeedback training can also help you prevent constipation. These training is meant to teach patients with pelvic floor dysfunction where they are trained how to make their muscles work more normally as well as improve their ability to defecate.
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