What are the symptoms of constipation?
Constipation refers to the difficulty in passing bowel motions. The motions of a person suffering from constipation are not normal and less frequent and the stools are difficult to pass from the body.
This physical condition can be identified by a reduction in the frequency of bowel movements. It is believed that constipation arises without daily bowel movement. However, it is important to note that frequency of bowel movement differs between different people.
What Causes Constipation?
Bowel movement is the final stage of digestion. Food processing begins in the stomach and travels to the small intestine and then into the large intestine. Constipation occurs due to the indigestible residue of the ingested food, bacteria and water.
Foods rich in fiber or roughage are very important for the human body and can prevent difficult digestion and any bowel movement obstruction. The muscles placed in the walls of the large intestine pushes contents entered in the body to move towards the rectum. Rich in fiber foods make it easier for these contents to move out of the body.
In the colon, bulky feces stretch the walls of the colon triggering the peristaltic waves. These waves slow down through the colon and then may become drier and harder. A diet of high fiber will produce feces and retaining some water would be helpful to make them remain soft in the body.
A person’s diet is the main factor contributing to constipation. Even lower fluid intake, may lead to an increase in the amount of water being absorbed by the feces.
What complications occur due to Constipation?
A diet low in fiber may cause constipation which can be a serious issue. Long-term constipation with straining is one of the major reasons of the development of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are very common in western countries whereas it appears less common in countries where high fiber diets are consumed.
Overuse of laxatives may cause long term difficulties which may work by stimulating the bowel into action by improving bowel movements. The continuous use of medicine may affect muscles in the colon walls and can lead to nerve damage. Pronounced pain along with the bloating sensation of the abdomen may accompany constipation which results in the immediate need of a doctor.
Diet: Fiber is helpful in stimulating the bowel which is a simple and effective step in improving bowel motion. More people are consuming a large amount of fast food due to its convenience. These foods usually have low levels of fiber and do not include fresh fruit, vegetables or wholemeal breads which are helpful in regulating bowel movement. Also, fast foods do not contain important vitamins and trace elements which maintain a person’s general health.
Increasing water intake is also certainly helpful to ease constipation.
Exercise: Exercise stimulates the muscles in the colon which speed up the passage that stools pass and prevents people from becoming dehydrated. Exercise is healthy for the human body so one must spend an hour brisk walking, swimming or even spending some time with nature.
Treatments available for Constipation
Laxatives: If attempting diet or exercise routine changes fail, laxatives may be beneficial for the human body to a certain extent. Several types of laxatives can help improve overall symptoms. The benefits of laxatives can be easily obtained as they consist of these ingredients:
Isapghula: This is a bulk-forming laxative which adds fiber to stools and increases their size which makes it easier to pass through the bowel. It is a mild and good option to consider as it can also be a safe option to use on a regular basis. It passes through the bowel without even being absorbed as bulk-forming laxatives are the best fiber supplements.
Lactulose: This is considered to be an osmotic laxative which works by holding more water in feces and making stools softer and easier to pass. People may start to experience the effects within 48 hours of use.
Senna & Bisacodyl: These stimulant laxatives work by adding speed to muscular contractions in the bowel and work faster than bulk-forming and osmotic laxatives. They must be consumed before bed time to achieve bowel movement the next morning. These products are recommended to be taken only for a few days because over-use can reduce the muscle contractor of the gut. It may even make constipation worse.
Liquid Paraffin: This is classed as a lubricant laxative which works by softening the stool to make it easier to pass by avoiding the further absorption of liquids by the colon. Being oily in nature, some essential nutrients and vitamins are bound by it and prevent it from being absorbed by the body. If consumed by the lungs, it may cause pneumonia. This laxative is not recommended due the problems it may cause.