Why Is Constipation A Problem
Constipation can have a huge impact on your life. It can lead to painful cramping, hemorrhoids, Anal fissures, and other problems.
Constipation is the passage of infrequent large hard stools that are sometimes difficult to pass, which may require manual assistance . It is caused by a reduced frequency of bowel movements or an increase in stool size.
Constipation is usually associated with increased straining during defecation and infrequent bowel movements , which together cause the rectum to become hard and distended. The constipated person may feel bloated or full because they are retaining water in their bowel
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 .
Constipation Symptoms And Signs
You are likely be constipated if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Fewer bowel movements than normal
- Pain and straining when passing stools
- Stomach pain
- Lack of exercise
- Some medicines, especially pain killers
- Some people with neurological problems such as Parkinsons disease or Multiple Sclerosis are prone to constipation
- Surgery around the anus can sometimes be a cause of constipation mainly due to pain when emptying the bowel afterwards
- Conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome , Colitis and Crohns Disease
- Ignoring the urge to open the bowels
- There is a strong connection between emotional feelings and how the gut works. Feeling upset can make your bowel slow down or speed up.
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What Kind Of Follow
- If the person has specific disorders such as hypothyroidism, scleroderma, and lupus, he or she may require regular follow-ups with a health-care professional.
- Elderly people with a history of fecal impaction and fecal incontinence should be followed regularly to ensure that they do not develop further attacks.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Constipation In Adults
An individual may exhibit a broad range of symptoms of constipation depending on his or her bowel habits, diet, and age. These are some common problems a person may have if he or she is constipated:
- Difficulty in starting or completing a bowel movement
- Infrequent and difficult passage of stool
- Passing hard stool after prolonged straining
- a sense of bloating, and
- a change in bowel habits
Take A Fiber Supplement
Fiber supplements are readily available and effective at inducing bowel movements if a low-fiber diet is the cause of your constipation. They work by adding bulk, or volume, to your stool. This helps push stool through your intestines and out of your body.
You can buy fiber supplements on . Here are a few common ones:
- calcium polycarvophil
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While you might need an early-morning coffee fix or a nightly wine-and-dine for your sanity, swigging excess caffeine and alcohol could rob your body of the hydration it needs to have a proper bowel movement. “Drinking alcohol inhibits anti-diuretic hormone , and in doing this it causes diuresis, or urination,” says Bhavesh Shah, M.D., medical director of interventional gastroenterology at Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach. “More diuresis can lead to dehydration, which can make the symptoms of constipation worse. Likewise, caffeine is a stimulant that can cause the opposite effect of diarrhea in some individuals.”
Water might not exactly be a beverage that’ll turn your mood around on a dime, but it’s the best thing to pour in your glass when you’re feeling stopped up. “Adequate daily fluid intake is essential, and the average healthy woman should try to consume at least 91 ounces of water daily,” says James-Stevenson. If you like to have options in terms of flavor, prune juice is the go-to alternative to the clear stuff for constipation relief.
This easy water bottle hack will help you stay properly hydrated every single day:
For those of us who can’t get by without our Greek yogurt, the good news is that not all dairy has to be off-limits: “Good alternatives with lower amounts of lactose include lactose-free milk sherbets ‘hard’ cheeses, like Swiss, parmesan and blue and yogurt,” says James-Stevenson.
How Does Constipation Happen
Constipation happens because your colon absorbs too much water from waste , which dries out the stool making it hard in consistency and difficult to push out of the body.
To back up a bit, as food normally moves through the digestive tract, nutrients are absorbed. The partially digested food that remains moves from the small intestine to the large intestine, also called the colon. The colon absorbs water from this waste, which creates a solid matter called stool. If you have constipation, food may move too slowly through the digestive tract. This gives the colon more time too much time to absorb water from the waste. The stool becomes dry, hard, and difficult to push out.
Pathway of food waste through colon, rectum and anus.
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How Do Doctors Treat Constipation
If self-care treatments dont work, your doctor may prescribe a medicine to treat your constipation. If youre taking an over-the-counter or prescription medicine or supplement that can cause constipation, your doctor may suggest you stop taking it, change the dose, or switch to a different one. Talk with your doctor before changing or stopping any medicines.
What Are Complications Of Constipation
Constipation can cause complications, such as hemorrhoids, which occur by straining to have a bowel movement, or anal fissures which occur when hard stool stretches the sphincter muscle. This can result in rectal bleeding.
Sometimes, straining also causes rectal prolapse, where a small amount of intestinal lining pushes out from the anal opening. Constipation may also cause fecal impaction, which occurs mostly in children and older adults. The hard stool packs the intestine and rectum so tightly that the normal pushing action of the colon is not enough to expel the stool.
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To Have Better Results
To have better results, here is what to do when constipated: simulate muscle contraction 30 minutes before you go to the toilet.
You can mix muscle contraction with squatting to relax the sphincter and puborectalis muscles quicker. For most people suffering from constipation, the four steps described above in detail are enough to stimulate bowel movement.
If you want to have good intestinal motility and alleviate constipation, practice these steps as often as you can. And consider them as a way of relaxing your body or taking a break from work.
What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy
As with many other pregnancy symptoms, pregnancy hormones are the culprit behind constipation. Progesterone causes the muscles in your bowels to relax, allowing food to hang around longer in the digestive tract.
The upside is there’s added time for nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream and reach your baby. The downside is you end up with a waste-product traffic jam. Your expanding uterus also takes up valuable space normally occupied by your bowel, cramping its usual activity.
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Processed And Fried Foods
Fast food doesn’t necessarily have a health halo around it, but here’s one thing you might not know about your fave burger-and-fries combo: It could be the trigger behind your constipation, says Dr. Bedford.
Why? Processed foods tend to be high in fat and low in fiber, a combo that is rough on the colon, and can often slow down motility . If you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet outside of your fast-food meal, it can lead to constipation.
Q: How Can I Prevent Or Get Rid Of Constipation
A: Dr. Zutshi emphasizes the big three: Water first. Fiber next. Exercise third.
- Water: Drink a lot. Juices, water, tea and coffee count toward your water intake. People who have normal bowel movements should aim for at least 64 to 80 ounces of water daily. Those who tend to be constipated should drink more.
- Fiber: If you cant get enough fiber from food, talk to your doctor about a supplement. Good supplements to try include Metamucil®, Citrucel® or Benefiber®.
- Exercise: Increasing your exercise can be as simple as walking more. You dont need to be a hardcore athlete.
If you think youre having issues with constipation, Dr. Zutshi advises you to be proactive.
See a gastroenterologist to figure out if everything is OK. And if you have not had a colonoscopy, and youre over 50, its time to schedule one.
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Push And To Stay Calm
Do it as if you were trying to lift weights and squat at the same time. This movement creates pressure in the rectum.
Practice it for 5-10 seconds and pause. Then repeat it. So, the stool will evacuate slowly, but surely, without any trouble. You can take pauses if you feel there isnt much stool movement. But keep in mind the steps and repeat them slowly.
Things You Should Never Do When Youre Constipated
Theyll only make your clogged pipes worse.
We all have those days when it’s so tough to have a bowel movement that even the throes of childbirth look like a cakewalk. In fact, it happens more often than you think: According to the Women’s Health Foundation, more than 4 million Americans suffer from frequent constipation. And as luck would have it, women are three times more likely to get blocked up than men. Some doctors speculate it’s because our colons are slightly longer, adding more twists and turnsand potential roadblocksto our digestive tracts.
But while the bloating and abdominal pain associated with a gridlocked gut may be common, the symptoms aren’t something you should simply flush down the drain. “Very severe constipation is not only very uncomfortable, but it can also lead to blockage of your colon , which then may require more invasive treatment than laxatives alone,” says Lee Ann Chen, M.D., a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. Translation: The last thing you want to do when there’s a kink in your pipes is partake in anything that might plug you up even more. To help move things along when you just can’t go, make it a point to avoid these poop-blocking behaviors:
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How Did My Dog Become Constipated
There are several potential causes of constipation that all fall into one of the medical types of constipation listed above. The most common is intraluminal constipation wherein a foreign object like a tumor or swallowed object is blocking the colon from the inside. The majority of canines who experience constipation experience intraluminal constipation whereby something he ate becomes lodge in the colon until it can be passed. More often than not, the blockage in your dogs digestive system is something like grass, string, or hair and can eventually be passed. In rare circumstances, the obstruction must be removed through surgery or broken up with an enema.
The exterior blockage alluded to in the description of extra-luminal constipation is not always visible. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a matted clump of hair that is blocking the anus, but in other situations, there is something within the body, like a broken bone or arthritis, that is affecting regularity outside the colon itself.
Intrinsic constipation is rare and is usually found as a side effect of medication being taken by your dog. While neurological disorders have the rare ability to manifest as constipation, more than likely intrinsic constipation will be an anticipated result of a medical procedure or something similar.
According to AvoDerm, some of the most common causes of constipation are as follows:
Q: What Causes Constipation
A: Constipation happens when your bowel movements occur less often or cause more strain than usual. Dr. Zutshi says there are three kinds of constipation:
- Normal transit constipation.
- Slow transit constipation.
- Outlet defecation syndrome or ODS, a type of chronic constipation involving hard stool and an inability to pass stool that occurs at least once a week for six months.
Normal transit and slow transit constipation are both considered motility disturbances. And to understand motility, look no further than the morning commute.
Motility is how well the roads or in this case, the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract are moving.
- Normal transit is like driving the speed limit until some roadwork at your exit derails your expected arrival time. Stool moves through your GI system normally, but a problem such as hard stool makes it difficult to pass.
- Slow transit is bumper-to-bumper traffic the whole way through. The muscles in your GI system contract slowly, causing the stool to take a long time to get to its final destination. You go less often, with more straining and harder stool.
And just like there are many causes for snarled roadways, there are different reasons your inner streets are backing up, such as a lack of:
You have less control over these other constipation causes:
- Medical conditions, including diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome or even a spinal cord injury.
- Medications such as antidepressants or herbal supplements.
- Being pregnant.
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Further Help For Constipation
You will find further information about causes and how its diagnosed on our Constipation information sheet.
If you are concerned about your problem and it is starting to affect your day to day life make an appointment to see your doctor, continence nurse or specialist physiotherapist. A continence nurse and specialist physiotherapist are healthcare professionals who specialise in bladder and bowel problems.
Can Constipation Be Prevented Or Avoided
There are things you can do to reduce constipation. These include:
- Add more fiber to your diet. Adults should eat between 20-35 grams of fiber each day. Foods, such as beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are high in fiber.
- Drink more water. Being dehydrated causes your stool to dry out. This makes having a bowel movement more difficult and painful.
- Dont wait. When you have the urge to have a bowel movement, dont hold it in. This causes the stool to build up.
- Get physical. Exercise is helpful in keeping your bowel movements regular.
- Beware of medicines. Certain prescription medicines can slow your digestive system. This causes constipation. Talk to your doctor about how to prepare for this if you need these medicines.
- Talk to your doctor if you are being treated for certain diseases that are related to constipation. He or she may have additional guidance for lowering your risks.
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Causes And Symptoms Of Canine Constipation
Its important to know the symptoms of constipation in dogs so that you can tell when your pet needs some help. Pay attention when your dog goes to the bathroom are they straining or struggling? You might notice a difference in their stool as well.
Dogs who are constipated often have pieces of stool that are smaller and harder than normal. Theyll also whine and want to go outside more often. Constipation can also make your dog appear bloated and uncomfortable, and they may have a hunched posture. If theyre experiencing constipation regularly, they may also lose their appetite.
There are a number of different factors that can cause constipation in dogs. If they dont have enough fiber in their diet or arent drinking enough water, they may struggle to process food. They may also feel constipated as a result of eating something they arent supposed to, like hair, grass, or feces.
Other foreign objects can also cause blockages that prevent your dog from passing food normally. In more serious situations, your dog could also be experiencing constipation as a result of a hernia, enlarged prostate glands, neurological condition, tumor, or other chronic health problem.
Certain dog breeds could also be struggling with hip dysplasia or another painful condition that limits their ability to squat. This is why its so important to consult your vet if your dogs constipation goes on for an extended period of time.