Should I Take Laxatives And Are They Safe
Regular use of laxatives is generally not encouraged but occasional use is not harmful. Things to consider:
- The effects of laxatives are unpredictable a dose that works today may not produce an effect tomorrow.
- Laxatives can cause pain and result in the passage of loose stools especially if the dose is too high.
- Long term use can lead to the bowel becoming progressively less responsive in some people, and in these individuals it may be important to switch to a different agent.
- Certain laxatives will not work in some patients.
- While laxatives and suppositories may ease bowel opening, they dont often help the common problems of pain and bloating.
Nevertheless, the balance of scientific evidence suggests that laxatives do not cause any damage to the bowel and there is no evidence that using them puts you at risk of getting colon cancer. Sometimes doctors will advise people to take laxatives and some people do need them longer term, if your doctor has advised them, they are unlikely to be harmful in the long term. Suppositories or mini-enemas are more predictable than laxatives and tend to be very well tolerated and effective. They are especially useful for people who have difficulty with needing to strain to evacuate their bowel. It may be best to use laxatives only with proper guidance.
Taking laxatives does not result in weight loss, they work on the large bowel and most of the goodness from food is absorbed in the small bowel.
How Is Constipation Diagnosed
The tests performed by a doctor will depend on the duration and severity of the constipation, since most persons experience constipation at one time or another. The doctor will also take into account the patient’s age, and whether there is blood in the stool, recent changes in bowel habits, or weight loss.
Diagnosing constipation may include:
Medical history. The doctor will ask for a description of the constipation, including duration of symptoms, frequency of bowel movements, and other information to help determine the cause of the constipation.
Physical examination. A physical examination may also include a digital rectal examination , in which the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to evaluate the tone of the muscle that closes off the anus. This examination also helps detect tenderness, obstruction, blood, amount and caliber of stool, and if enlargement of the rectum is present.
Other diagnostic tests may include:
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 .
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When Is It Time To See A Doctor About Constipation
Many people get spooked if they can’t go to the bathroom for a few days, but it’s not a medical emergency, says Robynne Chutkan, M.D., a gastroenterologist in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and author of Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage.
However, if it’s been a week since your last bowel movementand you’ve tried at-home treatments to no availthat’s a good time to call your doc to schedule an in-office visit, says Chutkan,
Other than how frequentlyer, how infrequentlyyou’re on the toilet, more serious symptoms you should look out for include: changes in stool texture, blood in stool, hemorrhoids, weight loss, decreased appetite, or nausea and vomiting.
In those cases, a doctor’s number-one concern about your number-twos is colorectal cancer. So theyll want to rule it out before figuring out any other causes of constipation.
In rare cases, your constipation could also be a form of digestive obstruction, where there is an actual blockage in your system, says Latorre. Patients will usually look very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, and pain. They key difference is that they are also unable to pass gas, she explains. If you’re experiencing any of those symptoms, get to a doctor ASAP.
How Is Constipation Treated
Most cases of mild to moderate constipation can be managed by you at home. Self-care starts by taking an inventory of what you eat and drink and then making changes.
Some recommendations to help relieve your constipation include:
- Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day. Avoid caffeine-containing drinks and alcohol, which can cause dehydration.
- Add fruits, vegetables whole grains and other high-fiber foods to your diet. Eat fewer high-fat foods, like meat, eggs and cheese.
- Eat prunes and/or bran cereal.
- Keep a food diary and single out foods that constipate you.
- Get moving, exercise.
- Check how you sit on the toilet. Raising your feet, leaning back or squatting may make having a bowel movement easier.
- Add an over-the-counter supplemental fiber to your diet .
- If needed, take a very mild over-the-counter stool softener or laxative . Mineral oil enemas, like Fleet®, and stimulant laxatives, like bisacodyl or senna , are other options. There are many laxative choices. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for help in making a choice. Do not use laxatives for more than two weeks without calling your doctor. Overuse of laxatives can worsen your symptoms.
- Do not read, use your phone or other devices while trying to move your bowels.
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Check If It’s Constipation
It’s likely to be constipation if:
- you have not had a poo at least 3 times during the last week
- the poo is often large and dry, hard or lumpy
- you are straining or in pain when you have a poo
You may also have a stomach ache and feel bloated or sick.
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, constipation may be easily missed. It’s important to be aware of any changes in their behaviour that might mean they are in pain or discomfort, although it’s not always easy.
Constipation in adults has many possible causes. Sometimes there’s no obvious reason.
The most common causes include:
- not eating enough fibre such as fruit, vegetables and cereals
- not drinking enough fluids
- not moving enough and spending long periods sitting or lying in bed
- being less active and not exercising
- often ignoring the urge to go to the toilet
- changing your diet or daily routine
- a side effect of medicine
- stress, anxiety or depression
Constipation is also common during pregnancy and for 6 weeks after giving birth.
Rarely, constipation may be caused by a medical condition.
Burping And Flatulencegood For You Or Just Rude
Occasional burping, or belching, is normal, especially during or after meals. Everyone swallows air throughout the day. If you swallow too much at once, it may create discomfort and cause you to burp, explains William Ravich, MD, a Yale Medicine GI physician and specialist in swallowing disorders and esophageal disease.
We swallow air all the time. Every time you eat something, 50% of what you swallow is food and 50% is air . You also swallow when youre not eating and if you look at your saliva, most of the stuff you might spit out is all bubbles from air, Dr. Ravich says.
But people have different capacities to tolerate swallowed air, Dr. Ravich says. There is a threshold where the air needs to be released, which is what causes you to burp. Some people may reach that threshold quicker. When that threshold is reached, it causes them to belch, he explains.
Gastroenterologist William Ravich, MD, consults with a colleague about a GI case.
Plus, eating too quickly, talking while you eat, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated beverages can all cause you to swallow more air and burp.
But is burping a problem? In some cultures, belching is considered a sign of appreciation. But in Western society, it is often considered rude, Dr. Ravich notes. I think its good to release gas if its causing you discomfort. But if you dont, the gas will also eventually work its way out.
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Chronic Constipation Or Constipation Alternating With Diarrhea
It is normal to occasionally feel constipatedhaving difficulty moving bowels or infrequent bowel movements. There are a variety of reasons why someone may experience occasional constipation. But if you or a loved one is frequently experiencing constipation, or constipation alternating with diarrhea, it is important to see a healthcare provider or gastroenterologist. Your healthcare provider will be able to run tests to determine the cause of the constipation and recommend for the best course of treatment for you or your loved one.
Exercise Gets Things Moving
“Exercise will definitely help with constipation,” says Dr. Eichele. “In some cultures, people go for a walk after a meal. That activity stimulates the digestion process.”
A 10- or 15-minute walk after a meal means your colon will get moving, too which is a healthy, normal response.
If you’ve heard of “runner’s gut,” the same principle applies. “Long-distance runners can sometimes struggle with needing to go, due to an overactive colon,” says Dr. Eichele.
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Being Constipated Is Downright Uncomfortable Heres How To Get Relief
Some people think if they don’t have a bowel movement every day, they’re constipated, but this isnt the case. Officially, being constipated means having two or fewer bowel movements a week.
You may also be constipated if you experience straining, hard stools, a feeling of being blocked up or a feeling that you don’t completely empty your bowels.
“If you’re constipated, you may also feel cramping, bloating, nausea or pain in the rectum from straining,” says Dr. Amitpal Johal, division chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Geisinger Medical Center.
If any of these feelings last for several weeks or longer, youre likely looking for a constipation remedy. Here’s what you can do at home to unblock yourself and feel relief.
How To Prevent Constipation Bloating
There are several lifestyle changes you can make that can help you prevent constipation-related bloating:
- Slowly increase your fiber intake. Fiber adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass. However, if you add too much too quickly, you can experience worsening bloating.
- Increase your water intake. Drinking more water can also add bulk to your stool, reducing constipation.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can increase many gastrointestinal symptoms, including constipation.
- Take part in regular physical activity. This will help keep your bowels moving.
You can also make dietary changes to help reduce bloating.
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Gastrointestinal Stomach Cramps Causes
You may experience stomach cramps directly related to the functioning of your gastrointestinal system.
- Gas: You may feel relief from uncomfortable bloating caused by gas when it leaves your body.
- Constipation: Without regular bowel movements, you can quickly feel backed up and as if your stomach is distended or sticking out.
- Stomach ulcers: These painful sores in the lining of the stomach, also known as peptic ulcers, are often caused by bacteria.
- Functional abdominal pain: This is a common kind of pain that is not caused by a physical problem with the organs in the belly. This condition is also known as centrally mediated abdominal pain syndrome , and treatment options are mainly supportive.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Excess inflammation in your intestines is painful and may come with joint pains or rashes and often diarrhea or bowel movements with blood.
What To Do To Relieve The Period Cramps:
Normal period cramps are easier to manage on your own. But in case of severe menstrual cramps, some home remedies may help:
- Regular Exercises:
30 minutes of aerobic exercises 3-4 times a week reduces the severity of the menstrual cramps and pains.
- Heating Pad:
A heating pad on the lower abdomen provides you relief from the menstrual cramps.
- OTC Medication:
OTC pain relievers like Ibuprofen help relieve menstrual cramps if the cramps are not as severe. However, taken a day before the menstrual cramps start, OTC medication may be more effective. Besides this medication, NSAIDs also help relieve menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding.
- Stress Management:
Stress has been often linked with menstrual cramps. However, managing the stress with the help of yoga, breathing exercises, light stretching, and doing things that you like to do can help reduce stress.
- Quitting Smoke and Alcohol Consumption:
It has been found that people who smoke and consume alcohol regularly have increased risks of experiencing painful menstrual cramps.
Self-care methods, including back massage, abdominal massage, exercise, green tea, and staying in bed with a heating pad on the abdomen, can help lessen the period cramps.
Supplements rich in magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B1, B6, E, D, agnus castus, and fish oil have been researched and found to help lessen menstrual cramps.
- Sex and Orgasms
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What Is Constipation
Having fewer than three bowel movements a week is, technically, the definition of constipation. However, how often you go varies widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements several times a day while others have them only one to two times a week. Whatever your bowel movement pattern is, its unique and normal for you as long as you dont stray too far from your pattern.
Regardless of your bowel pattern, one fact is certain: the longer you go before you go, the more difficult it becomes for stool/poop to pass. Other key features that usually define constipation include:
- Your stools are dry and hard.
- Your bowel movement is painful and stools are difficult to pass.
- You have a feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels.
Why Do Kids Get Ibs
No one really knows what causes IBS, but it tends to run in families.
Stress can affect kids with IBS too. Stress can speed up your colon and slow your stomach down. Stressful feelings also can be a trigger for IBS. Let’s say a kid has a big test at school the next day and really worries about it, that’s stress. Or if a kid’s parents argue a lot that’s stress too. A kid in this situation can learn to handle stress in other ways, so IBS symptoms will go away or at least be less severe.
What kids eat can also be a trigger. This can be different for each kid. For example:
- A high-fat diet may bother some kids.
- Sugary drinks may cause diarrhea in other kids.
- For other kids, eating big meals and spicy foods might cause problems.
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How To Treat Nausea
If your nausea is brought on by constipation, you should try to treat the constipation itself first. According to Hastin taking a laxative or a stool softener may help ease your nausea.
You can also take over-the-counter treatments like Pepto Bismol or Gaviscon.
If you dont have immediate access to over-the-counter medication here are a couple of tips to get temporary relief from nausea, no matter what the cause may be:
- Place a heating pad against your stomach. This can help relax the stomach muscles and ease your nausea.
- Sit up straight to avoid crunching your stomach, especially after eating.
- Apply a cool compress to the back of your neck.
- Drink some ginger tea. Many studies show that ginger is an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea.
However, if you have persistent nausea, thats occurring over the course of a week or a month, then you should see a doctor, advises Curtin.
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It Could Be Constipation
While youre spending a lot of time at home, you may not be moving as much as you usually do. You may also be eating different foods. This can lead to constipation. You may be constipated if you experience:
- Fewer bowel movements than normal for you
- Stool that is lumpy or looks like pebbles
- Difficulty passing stool or a feeling that you still need to go after youre finished
Fortunately, you can make a number of at-home changes to help relieve your constipation. These include:
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This Factsheet Is About Constipation
Constipation is a symptom that can mean different things to different people, but the usual meaning is that a person has difficulty or infrequency with opening their bowels. Constipation affects around 1 in 7 otherwise healthy people. The two groups of people most likely to be trouble by constipation are young women and the elderly especially those who need to take regular medicines.
There is a common belief that people need to open their bowels every day, but this is not the case. Opening the bowels can vary between three times a day to three times a week in healthy individuals. Symptoms can constantly fluctuate and 3 people in every 100 adults have persistent constipation over 20 years. It is a common problem and does not usually mean that anything is seriously wrong. Most cases are temporary and will clear up with simple lifestyle measures.