What is Constipation?
The meaning of Constipation may differ for one another. But it simply means infrequent stools, hard stools or difficulty in passing stools which may result in incomplete emptying of your stomach after a bowel movement. The usual time span between bowel movements ranges from three times a day to three times a week, depending on each individual.
If you are hot having bowel movement for less than 3 times a week, then the stools or feces become hard leading to straining or pushing of stools for more than ten minutes passing hard stools tearing the anus. You may feel gassy and bloated after straining for a long time in the bathroom.
If you are experiencing with two or more of the following conditions for the past three to six months then you are considered to be constipated:
- Experience harder stools or pass less than 2 or 3 stools a week
- Excessive straining during bowel movements
- Experiencing a rectal blockage
- Unable to evacuate your bowels completely
- Bleeding while passing hard stools, as a result of straining
- Sensation of bloating and gas in the abdomen
- Formation of Hemorrhoids indicate chronic constipation
Causes of Constipation:
The root cause of constipation is slower movement of the bowels / stools through your colon making it difficult to pass. Some of the most common factors that can cause constipation include:
- Dehydration or inadequate intake of water and other fluids
- Inadequate intake of fiber in your diet
- Interrupting your routine or eating habits / travelling too much / aging
- Immobility or lack of physical activity or exercise
- Anxiety, stress or depression
- Increase in the intake of dairy products
- Delay in the bowel movement, in which case you have to urge to move the bowels resulting in pain from hemorrhoids
- Excessive use of laxatives, which helps in softening the stools, may sometimes make the bowel muscles week
- Certain diseases including diabetes, stroke, hormonal disturbances (hypothyroidism), sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions
- Side effects of specific medications such as antacid medicines, narcotics, anti-depressants, pain medications, iron, calcium or aluminum pills
- Being overweight or underweight due to certain eating disorders
- Certain diseases of the bowel, such as “Irritable bowel syndrome” or colon cancer
- Changes in lifestyle, including pregnancy
- Diarrhea or deficiency of body salts
- Disorder of muscle and nerve function in the bowel
Symptoms of Constipation:
If you have bowel movement every day, it does not mean that you have constipation. Along with the symptoms mention above, there are some more symptoms as follows
- Sensing difficulty / Straining terribly in having bowel movements
- Pain in the abdomen or swelling of abdomen
- Pain while passing bowels / stools
- Diarrhea or severe vomiting
How to diagnose Constipation?
Constipation may bother many people but it is not a serious health problem. In most of the cases, you need not have to get extensive testing done to diagnose constipation. However, people suffering with chronic constipation may have a severe health disorder. If you have suffered constipation for over 2 or 3 weeks, then it is recommended to visit a doctor, in order to find out the source of your disorder and find a good treatment to get rid of it.
If in case, constipation has occurred due to colon cancer, then it is very important to detect and cure it as early as possible.
Various tests your doctor may conduct to diagnose to detect constipation and its causes include:
- If you suspect hormonal imbalance, then blood tests are taken
- If blockage or obstruction of the colon is suspected then Barium enema or Colonoscopy are carried out.
Most people suffering with constipation show some kind of illness that explains their symptoms. If you have constipation, you suffer from some of the below problems:
Colonic inertia is a condition in which you observe poor contraction of colon and retaining of bowels or stools Obstructed defecation is a condition in which extreme strain to push out bowels / stools from the rectum are observed
How to prevent Constipation?
- Several things that are to be taken into account to prevent constipation are as follows:
- Increase the intake of well-balanced diet that contains lots of fiber. Include fruits, whole grain bread, cereals like bran, vegetables and legumes into your diet as they are excellent sources of fiber. Water and fiber help the colon to pass stools easily.
- Drink lots of water and other fluids daily. Drinks such as coffee and soft drinks contain caffeine, have a dehydrating effect on your body and so until your bowel movements get back to normal condition avoid these liquids.
- If you have a problem with dairy products, then avoid drinking milk, until constipation is cured.
- Improve physical activity or exercise on a regular basis
- Don’t wait until you feel the urge, just move your bowels
Things to do if you are constipated:
- Start drinking two to four more glasses of water / fluids daily
- Drink warm liquids in the morning, to ease bowel movement
- Add more fibrous fruits and vegetables to your daily diet routine
- Consume cereals such as prunes and bran
- If necessary, take a mild laxatives / stool softeners, such as Milk of Magnesia or Peri-Colace
When to seek a doctor’s advice:
See your doctor if you observe / experience the following signs or symptoms of a serious underlying constipation disorder
- If you have intense pain in the abdomen
- If you have blood in your stool
- If you notice a sudden weight loss
- If you have severe rectal pain with associated bowel movements
- If bowel movements are occurring more that 3 days apart
- If you are suffering from constipation for more than 2 – 3 weeks