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What Causes Constipation In Adults

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Can Constipation Cause Internal Damage Or Lead To Other Health Problems

How to treat constipation in adults

There are a few complications that could happen if you dont have soft, regular bowel movements. Some complications include:

  • Swollen, inflamed veins in your rectum .
  • Tears in the lining of your anus from hardened stool trying to pass through .
  • An infection in pouches that sometimes form off the colon wall from stool that has become trapped and infected
  • A pile-up of too much stool/poop in the rectum and anus .
  • Damage to your pelvic floor muscles from straining to move your bowels. These muscles help control your bladder. Too much straining for too long a period of time may cause urine to leak from the bladder .

Milk And Dairy Products

Dairy appears to be another common cause of constipation, at least for some people.

Infants, toddlers, and children appear particularly at risk, possibly due to a sensitivity to the proteins found in cows milk .

A review of studies conducted over a 26-year period found that some children with chronic constipation experienced improvements when they stopped consuming cows milk .

In a recent study, children aged 112 with chronic constipation drank cows milk for a period of time. The cows milk was then replaced by soy milk for a subsequent period of time.

Nine of the 13 children in the study experienced constipation relief when cows milk was replaced by soy milk .

There are many anecdotal reports of similar experiences in adults. However, little scientific support could be found, since most studies examining these effects are focused on children, not older populations.

Its worth noting that those who are lactose intolerant may experience diarrhea, rather than constipation, after consuming dairy.


Dairy products may cause constipation in some individuals. This effect is most common in those who are sensitive to the proteins found in cows milk.

Red meat may worsen constipation for three main reasons.

First, it contains little fiber, which adds bulk to stools and helps them move along.

Second, red meat may also indirectly reduce a persons total daily fiber intake by taking the place of higher-fiber options in the diet.

Common Signs And Symptoms

Constipation can generally be diagnosed when people experience two or more of the following signs, related to at least 25% of their bowel movements:

  • straining
  • hard or lumpy stools
  • a sense of incomplete evacuation
  • the need for manual maneuvers
  • fewer than 3 bowel movements per week

People often want to know what is considered normal or ideal, when it comes to bowel movements. Although its probably ideal to have a bowel movement every day, its generally considered acceptable to have them every 2-3 days, provided they arent hard, painful, or difficult to pass.

The handy Bristol Stool Scale can be used to describe the consistency of a bowel movement, with Type 4 stool often being considered the ideal .

Constipation is pretty common in the general population and becomes even more so as people get older. Experts estimate that over 65% of people over age 65 experience constipation, with straining being an especially common symptom.

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Complications Of Chronic Constipation

Some of the complications of chronic constipation include:

  • Faecal impaction the lower bowel and rectum become so packed with faeces that the muscles of the bowels cant push any of it out.
  • Faecal incontinence an overfull bowel can result in involuntary dribbling of diarrhoea.
  • Haemorrhoids constant straining to open the bowel can damage the blood vessels of the rectum.
  • Rectal prolapse the constant straining pushes a section of rectal lining out of the anus.
  • Urinary incontinence the constant straining weakens pelvic floor muscles. This makes the involuntary passing of urine more likely, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing.

Can Incontinence Be Prevented

Vector Poster Constipation Stock Illustration

Different events throughout your life can lead to many of the things that cause incontinence. The muscles that support your pelvic organs can weaken over time. For women, these muscles can also be weakened by big life events like pregnancy and childbirth. However, in the same way you work out to build strength in your legs or arms, you can do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Doing exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles may not prevent you from having any issues with incontinence, but it can help you regain control of your bladder. Maintaining a healthy body weight can also help with bladder control. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to maintain strong pelvic floor muscles throughout your life.

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How Can Constipation Affect You

Although people often worry about it, there is no reason to believe that constipation causes a poisoning of the system. It can cause feelings of sluggishness and bloating, but there is no evidence that bugs or toxins leak from the bowel into any other part of the body. Another common idea is that constipation may lead to cancer but there is no evidence that long-term constipation increases the chances of getting bowel cancer.

It is important to remember that the vast majority of cases of constipation are easily resolved with simple diet, lifestyle or medication change. However if constipation does not respond to different treatments there can be medium to long term effects including:

  • Haemorrhoids or fissures: bleeding from haemorrhoids, or more rarely a fissure at the anus, is the commonest complication of constipation.
  • Rectal prolapse: chronic straining can lead to the rectal wall protruding out through the anus.
  • Faecal impaction: elderly or immobile patients may get so badly constipated that they quite literally get bunged up and this will need prompt treatment by either the GP or hospital.
  • Diverticular disease: this is where small hard stools lead to increased intestinal contractions, creating pressure which causes the inner section of the intestine to bulge through the protective outer tube of muscle which surrounds it, creating a little pouch of intestine .

Does Biofeedback Exercise And Surgery Help Relieve Symptoms Of Constipation


Most of the muscles of the pelvis surrounding the anus and rectum are under some degree of voluntary control. Thus, biofeedback training can teach patients with pelvic floor dysfunction how to make their muscles work more normally and improve their ability to defecate. During anorectal biofeedback training, a pressure-sensing catheter is placed through the anus and into the rectum. Each time a patient contracts the muscles, the muscles generate a pressure that is sensed by the catheter and recorded on a screen. By watching the pressures on the screen and attempting to modify them, patients learn how to relax and contract the muscles more normally.


People who lead sedentary lives are more frequently constipated than people who are active. Nevertheless, limited studies of exercise on bowel habits have shown that exercise has minimal or no effect on the frequency of how often you go to the bathroom. Thus, exercise can be recommended mostly for its many other health benefits, but not for its effect on constipation.


Electrical pacing

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What Unlikely Factors Could Cause Constipation

With many different symptoms, constipation shouldnt be seen as a very worrying condition to have. Pregnancy, diabetes, and an overactive thyroid are just some of the many different reasons a person could be constipated.

Some risk factors are easily identifiable, such as age, dehydration, lack of fibre in the diet, and certain medicines which have side-effects on the digestive system.

The Laxative Myth You Shouldnt Believe

Chronic Constipation: Causes & Treatments – Dr. Ebube Nwaigwe

People often have concerns about using laxatives more than occasionally, because theyve heard this can be dangerous, or risky.

This is a myth that really should be dispelled. Although medical experts used to worry that chronic use of laxatives would result in a lazy bowel, there is no scientific evidence to support this concern.

In fact, in their technical review covering constipation, the American Society of Gastroenterology notes that Contrary to earlier studies, stimulant laxatives do not appear to damage the enteric nervous system.

Lifestyle changes and over-the-counter oral laxatives are the approaches endorsed as the first-line of constipation therapy, by the American Gastroenterology Society and others. There are no evidence-based guidelines that caution clinicians to only use laxatives for a limited time period.

The four types of OTC laxatives that Ill cover in the next section have been used by clinicians and older adults for decades, and when used correctly, are considered safe and do not seem to cause any long-term problems.

Thats not to say that they should be used willy-nilly, or in any which way. You absolutely should understand the basics of how each type works, so lets cover that now.

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What Is The Prognosis For Constipation In Adults

Most people with constipation have no physical disease of the digestive system nor any widespread disease associated with constipation. Most of the time, constipation is related to poor dietary habits, low fluid intake, and lack of exercise.

  • For people with constipation caused by an illness, recovery will be determined by how sick the affected individual is.
  • The person will usually recover well if his or her constipation is caused by painful hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

What Should I Expect When I Talk To My Doctor About My Constipation

Talking to your doctor or anyone about your bowel movements is not the most pleasant of topics. Know that your doctor is there for you. Doctors are trained health professionals who have discussed just about every health topic you can think of with their patients.

Your doctor will first ask you questions about your medical history, bowel movements, and your lifestyle and routines.

Medical history

  • What are your current and past diseases/health conditions?
  • Have you lost or gained any weight recently?
  • Have you had any previous digestive tract surgeries?
  • What medications and supplements do you take for other disorders and for the relief of constipation?
  • Does anyone in your family have constipation or diseases of the digestive tract or a history of colon cancer?
  • Have you had a colonoscopy?

Bowel movement history

  • How often do you have a bowel movement?
  • What do your stools look like?
  • Have you noticed any blood or red streaks in your stool?
  • Have you ever seen blood in the toilet bowl or on the toilet paper after you wipe?

Lifestyle habits and routines

  • What food and beverages do you eat and drink?
  • What is your exercise routine?

Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, which includes a check of your vital signs . He or she will use a stethoscope to listen to the sounds in your abdomen. Your abdomen will also be touched to check for pain, tenderness, swelling, and lumps.

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Prevent Constipation At Home

In order to never return to the problem after completing the treatment, you need to take care of high-quality constipation prevention. To do this, you will first need to correctly formulate a diet, adding many sources of fiber and a sufficient amount of fluid. The menu should include whole grain dishes, fresh fruits and vegetables.

A glass of warm water before breakfast is a great way to prevent constipation. You can add a little lemon juice or honey to the liquid. This procedure is replaced with a glass of milk before going to bed. The drink dissolves 3 teaspoons of banana seed oil.

Be sure to take care of your daily physical activity. For example, refuse to use the elevator or try to walk a few stops home after work. Morning exercises are also helpful.

#Constipation #adults #treatment #home #remedies

Doctor’s Notes On Constipation In Adults

Pin on You and Constipation

Constipation is passing less stool than normal. It is usually defined medically as having fewer than three stools per week. Severe constipation occurs when an individual has less than one stool per week. There are a number of causes of constipation. These include dietary factors, certain medications, overuse of stimulant laxatives, and some hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism.

Symptoms and signs if constipation, in addition to having a reduced number of bowel movements, can include straining with defecation, hard or small stools, lower abdominal discomfort, bloating, abdominal distension, anal bleeding, anal fissures, and a sense of incompletely emptying the bowels. Other symptoms that are less common can include diarrhea due to obstruction of the colon by hard or impacted stool.

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What Is The Large Bowel

The large bowel or large intestine is part of the digestive system. It includes the colon and rectum.

The large intestine plays a vital role in removing waste from the body. Liquid food waste from the small intestine goes into the large intestine, where it turns solid. You pass this solid waste as stool when you poop.

Essentials For Older People

The rectum enlarges as people age, and increased storage of stool in the rectum means that older people often need to have larger volumes of stool in their rectum in order to feel the urge to defecate. The increased rectal volume also allows hard stool to become impacted.

Other common factors in older people that lead to constipation include increased use of constipating drugs, a low-fiber diet, coexisting medical conditions , and reduced physical activity. Many older people also have misconceptions about normal bowel habits and use laxatives too often.

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How Common Is Constipation

You are not alone if you have constipation. Constipation is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. At least 2.5 million people see their doctor each year due to constipation.

People of all ages can have an occasional bout of constipation. There are also certain people and situations that are more likely to lead to becoming more consistently constipated . These include:

  • Older age. Older people tend to be less active, have a slower metabolism and less muscle contraction strength along their digestive tract than when they were younger.
  • Being a woman, especially while you are pregnant and after childbirth. Changes in a womans hormones make them more prone to constipation. The baby inside the womb squishes the intestines, slowing down the passage of stool.
  • Not eating enough high-fiber foods. High-fiber foods keep food moving through the digestive system.
  • Taking certain medications .
  • Having certain neurological and digestive disorders .

You May Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What Causes Constipation | Dr. J9 Live

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, tends to be diagnosed when persistent or chronic gastrointestinal symptoms cannot be explained with any other diagnosis. These symptoms include:

IBS has been known to increase mucus production in patients whose primary complaint is diarrhea , according to gastroenterologist, Jeffrey Hoberman, MD, in San Antonio, Texas.

However, the presence of mucus in stool along with other symptoms of IBS can also be a sign of other more serious conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

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How Can I Prevent Constipation

Use the same home-based methods you used to treat constipation to prevent it from becoming a chronic problem:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Fiber and water help the colon pass stool. Most of the fiber in fruits is found in the skins, such as in apples. Fruits with seeds you can eat, like strawberries, have the most fiber. Bran is a great source of fiber. Eat bran cereal or add bran cereal to other foods, like soup and yogurt. People with constipation should eat between 18 and 30 grams of fiber every day.
  • Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and soft drinks, can dehydrate you. You may need to stop drinking these products until your bowel habits return to normal.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Treat mild constipation with a dietary supplement like magnesium.
  • Move your bowels when you feel the urge. Do not wait.

What Are The Symptoms Of Constipation

Symptoms of constipation include:

  • You have fewer than three bowel movements a week.
  • Your stools are dry, hard and/or lumpy.
  • Your stools are difficult or painful to pass.
  • You have a stomach ache or cramps.
  • You feel bloated and nauseous.
  • You feel that you havent completely emptied your bowels after a movement.

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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • Why did I get a large bowel obstruction?
  • What is the best treatment for a large bowel obstruction?
  • Am I at risk for another large bowel obstruction?
  • How can I prevent another large bowel obstruction?
  • Should I look out for signs of complications?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A large bowel obstruction is a serious medical emergency. Not all bowel blockages require surgery. But you still need to be in the hospital. There, your healthcare provider can treat dehydration and drain excess fluid. This care can prevent more serious problems. Most surgically treated bowel blockages improve, resulting in normal bowel function afterward.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/21/2020.


Preventing The Stomach Bug


Even though the stomach bug is sometimes called the stomach flu, your annual flu vaccine will not prevent it. Different types of viruses cause the stomach bug. Antibiotics will not help treat the stomach bug because antibiotics work to treat bacterial infections, not viruses.

Take measures to prevent yourself from transmitting the stomach flu to others. Youre typically the most contagious when youre feeling the worst and a few days afterward. The bug can stay in your stool for up to two weeks .

Wash your hands often and stay home from work or school for at least a few days after you feel better.

You should also consider having your baby get the vaccine against the rotavirus when theyre 2 months old.

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