What is constipation?
Constipation is a common problem experienced by most of people. It is a chronic condition in which bowel movements occurs less often than usual movements, or consist of hard and dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass out, or the person experiences a sense of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement. Normal bowel movement varies from person to person. For some people, passing stool twice a day is completely normal, while for others, three times a week is the normal condition. Any change from the normal habit is the best way to understand if person is constipated or not.
How does constipation occurs?
If you have fewer than three bowel movements per week it means that you have constipation. It is a common gastrointestinal problem, in which bowel movements are infrequent or difficult to pass.
Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which consists of the hollow organs such as the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine including the rectum and anus, is responsible for digestion, nutrient absorption, and waste removal of the food.
The lower GI Track, consisting of the large intestine, or the bowel which includes your colon and rectum, absorbs water from the digested food and changes it from a liquid consistency to a solid form that we call stool.
Constipation occurs when the digested food spends too high time in your colon. The colon then absorbs higher amount of water and makes your stool hard and dry. If the stool is hard and dry it becomes difficult for your rectal muscles to push out it from your body.
Constipation is considered as a symptom of various health issues, rather than a disease by itself. Person can be considered as a constipated if he/she has fewer than three bowel movements in a week.
If you are suffering from constipation, you may end up with straining to pass stool which is hard and dry or feel that you are not able to completely empty out your bowels.
Causes of constipation?
- Unhealthy or irregular eating habits
- Eating very small portions of food
- Insufficient exercise / Walk
- Not visiting toilet when pressure arises
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Not drinking enough water
- Lack of fiber-rich foods in diet
Who is prone to constipation?
Most of us suffers from constipation at some point of time but below listed types of people are on higher risk.
- People older than 65 years
- Low-income group peoples
- Person who have just undergone a surgery
- Pregnant Women
- Woman who has just given a birth
- Person who lead a sedentary lifestyle
- Stressed peoples
- People suffering from eating disorders
- People do not eat good amount of fiber rich foods like banana
- Person who consumes large amounts of dairy products
- Frequent travelers
- People who suffering from medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, piles, multiple sclerosis, clinical depression, colon cancer
Symptoms of constipation
- Hard stool
- Difiicult to pass the stool out from body
- Only 3 bowel movements in a week
- Needs laxatives everyday for toilet
- Stool causes bleeding or tearing near anus
- Feeling not complete even after going to the toilet
- Painful sensation in stomach
- Feeling not well whole day
Diagnosis of constipation
If you feel any of the above symptoms and looks like chronic, you are advised to visit the doctor. The doctor can suggest dietary and lifestyle changes.
Constipation may also be the symptom of an underlying health condition. Therefore, the doctor may suggest some tests to rule out other health conditions:
Blood tests can specifically diagnose thyroid related problems, such as low thyroid.
Examination of your rectum and the lower portion of your colon.
Examination of the entire colon with a flexible, camera-equipped tube.
Balloon expulsion test
Measurement of time it takes for you to push out a balloon that has been filled with water and placed in your rectum.
Measurement of the coordination of the muscles you use to move your bowels.
Complications of constipation
The complication due to this condition includes but not limited to..
Hemorrhoids / swollen veins in the anus
While having a bowel movement if you strain often, it may cause swelling in the veins in and around the anus. In fact, chronic constipation may lead to the development of piles.
Straining to pass stools can cause tiny tears or bleeding in the anus.
Hardened stool can accumulate and remain stuck in intestines if you suffering from chronic constipation.
This thing occurs when due to too much straining over time, during bowel movements, causes a small part of the rectum to stretch and protrude from the anus.
Treatment of constipation
Doctor may prescribe few laxatives for chronic constipation. However, Only medicines are not the reliable to ending constipation. You can be advised by your doctor to change some diet and lifestyle
Exercising can provide certain relief from constipation by decreasing the time it takes for the food to move through the large intestine.
Exercises such as aerobics increases your breathing and heart rate. This leads to stimulate the intestinal muscles to contract naturally. When the intestinal muscles contract easily, it help to move the stools out smoothly and quickly.
Exercises like running, jogging, swimming, can keep your digestive tract healthy. Yoga is also a good exercise to get a relief from constipation.
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