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.
Your Upper Digestive System
The process of digestion begins in your mouth as you chew food. Saliva not only adds moisture to food but also adds enzymes that begin the process of breaking down the components of food.
As you swallow, food moves into your esophagus, where it travels downward to your stomach.
In your stomach, the act of digestion begins in earnest. Your stomach stores and churns the food you have consumed and releases pepsin and hydrochloric acid, both of which break down the components of food, resulting in a substance called chyme. After approximately two to three hours, the chyme is moved out of your stomach as it makes its way along your GI tract.
What Can I Do To Help Myself
You can follow these steps when you’re constipated and even when you’re not!
- Drink plenty of water. This can keep your poop from getting too hard and dry.
- Eat more fiber. Fruit, vegetables, and whole grains add fiber to your diet. And fiber can keep things moving.
- Ask your parents to use olive oil and other healthy oils in their cooking. This can help make you pass poop more easily.
- Exercise. Throw a ball with your friends, ride your bike, or shoot a few hoops. Activity helps you go to the bathroom regularly. In other words, if you get moving, your bowels will too!
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Constipation
Besides pooping less often or having a hard time going, you may feel full and have less of an appetite if you’re constipated. Your belly may stick out a little too. When you do go to the bathroom, you may feel like you have to work really hard to get the poop out, and it might hurt a little to go.
Sometimes when a kid’s really constipated, some watery poop like diarrhea might leak out around the hard poop that’s still inside. This can cause a messy accident, even for kids who stopped having accidents a long time ago.
What Treatment Is Available For Constipation
Most treatment is self-managed and based around dietary and lifestyle changes:
- Dietary changes: Regular meals and an adequate fluid intake are the mainstays of treating and preventing constipation. Although drinking more than this is unlikely to make a difference.
- A high fibre diet: this may help some patients with constipation. This should include a mixture of high fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholemeal bread and pasta, wholegrain cereals and brown rice. The aim should be to include a high fibre food at each meal along with five portions of fruit or vegetables each day. Some people may find that it helps to eat more fruit and vegetables while others might prefer cereals and grains. Eating more fibre may lead to bloating and can worsen discomfort, so it is important to increase levels slowly. Fibre is most helpful for people with mild symptoms of constipation, however if the condition is severe then continuing to increase fibre may make symptoms worse.
See our information here on fibre:
If you are struggling with your diet, ask your GP for a referral to a dietitian.
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Your Bowel Flora May Have Been Disrupted By An Infection
This is an interesting one: the Center for Digestive Diseases in Australia has a theory about the causes of constipation. The CDD thinks that one overlooked cause of common constipation may be caused when a particular bacteria, clostridia, gets into your system via the mouth, and disrupts its internal bacterial balance. Clostridia increases water retention in the colon, drying out waste, according to a 2001 study but it’s not clear whether it’s really responsible for most common-or-garden cases of constipation. At least not yet.
Key Findings On Mr Defecography
Mid-sagittal SSFSE MR image of the pelvis during evacuation in a patient with constipation shows a large anterior rectocele and internal intra-rectal prolapse .
Mid-sagittal gradient echo MR image of the pelvis during evacuation in a patient with chronic constipation show persistent puborectalis muscular contraction without expulsion of intra-rectal gel.
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Can Constipation Cause Internal Damage Or Lead To Other Health Problems
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 .
- An infection in pouches that sometimes form off the colon wall from stool that has become trapped and infected
- 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 .
Summary: Side Effects Of Constipation On The Body
In summary, the side of effects of constipation on the body include:
Brittle nails and thinning hair
Hosseinzadeh, S. T., Poorsaadati, S., Radkani, B., & Forootan, M. . Psychological disorders in patients with chronic constipation. Gastroenterology and Hepatology From Bed to Bench, 4, 159163
Evrensel, A., & Ceylan, M. E. . The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression. Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience, 13, 239244
Galland, L. . The Gut Microbiome and the Brain. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17, 12611272
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Get To Know Constipation
In general perception, constipation might refer to some abnormal bowel movements such as absence of stool, reduced frequency in defecation, and hard stools which are difficult to pass. Not only these abnormal conditions, constipation also includes one of these manifestations:
- Having lumpy or hard stools.
- Passing fewer than three stools per week.
- Difficult stool passage defined as needing help or longer time to empty the rectum.
- Straining to have bowel movements which might be presented with bloody stool.
- Feeling that rectum is not completely empty after bowel movement.
Constipation has been frequently found in women rather men. It can actually happen at any age groups, with more incidences in working age.
Effects Of Constipation On Weight Gain
Yes, a buildup of poop can add a few extra kilos – anyone who has done colonic irrigation or an enema can attest to that… But what about real weight, the fat storage kind? Yes, that too. Science is just starting to understand how a dysbiosis of intestinal flora can cause weight gain and obesity – but the link is definitely there . Hormone imbalances, particularly those relating to oestrogen have also been linked with obesity . So, not clearing those excess estrogens and having them reabsorbed back into your system might not be so good for your waistline.
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Key Findings On Radiography
The key radiographic findings of constipation are the presence of large fecal burden throughout the colon, luminal fecalomas, and a relative paucity or absence of luminal gas . Feces appear as soft tissue opacities with internal mottled air .
AP radiograph of the abdomen and pelvis in a patient with constipation displays diffuse dilation of the colon with an abrupt transition in luminal caliber by a large soft tissue opacity, which contains internal mottled air, indicative of feces .
AP radiograph of the abdomen and pelvis of patient with constipation shows a dilated colon with a transition in caliber due to a soft tissue opacity, which contains internal mottled air, characteristic of feces .
Two entities that mimic mechanical causes of constipation are adynamic paralytic ileus and acute colonic pseudo-obstruction. Adynamic paralytic ileus is commonly due to medications, metabolic abnormalities, and recent surgery. Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction, also known as Ogilvies Syndrome, is due to altered autonomic innervation of the colon and may also be caused by medications and metabolic disturbances .
Dietary And Lifestyle Modifications
Diet: Eating regular well-balanced meals and snacks with high-fibre content, as outlined in Canadas Food Guide, available on the Health Canada website, and maintaining an adequate fluid intake, is the recommended approach to prevent and manage constipation.
Exercise: Exercise helps move food through the colon more quickly. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, accelerates your heart and breathing rates, and helps to stimulate the natural contractions of intestinal muscles.
Physiotherapy: Pelvic dysfunction physiotherapy may include bowel retraining, electrical stimulation, and posture correction.
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How Does Your Diet Affect Your Poop
Our diets also play a significant role in stool form and health. Observational studies performed in south and eastern Africa in the 1970s and 80s compared the gastrointestinal health of Caucasians eating a Western-style diet and native Africans living a traditional lifestyle. The researchers found drier stool forms and constipation were more common in people who ate Western-style diets.
This was associated with increased incidence of bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, as well as other chronic diseases. The results were attributed to differing levels of fiber in the diets of these two populations and these conclusions have been clearly confirmed for bowel cancer in numerous studies.
Fiber impacts how long it takes to poop, the shape of your stool, and your stool health in two ways. First, when a healthy, well-hydrated person eats fibrous foods such as wheat bran with lots of roughage, the food takes up water and swells. This increases the volume of the stoolsoftening it, and helping it pass easier. At the same time, it dilutes and more rapidly clears any toxins that may have been ingested with the food.
More potent components of dietary fiber also exist: fermentable carbohydrates such resistant starch , beta glucans and fructo-oligosaccharides, which are commonly found in whole grains, legumes, pulses, fruit and vegetables. These are a key nutritional source for the trillions of bacteria that inhabit the large bowel .
How Does The Psyllium Fiber In Metamucil Help My Poop
If you are experiencing less-than-ideal bowel movements, the fiber in Metamucil can treatoccasional irregularity. The psyllium fiber in Metamucil works by forming a gel inside your digestive system that traps and removes the waste that weighs you down. Metamucil comes as a powder and capsule so you can add it to your daily routine. Be sure to read the label and use as directed. To help you kickstart healthy fiber habits, you can sign up for the Two-Week Challenge, where Metamucil will send you tips, tricks, and reminders to keep you on track to meet your fiber goals and get you more regular.
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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 Constipation Wrecks Your Health
Most people think of constipation as a symptom rather than the cause of their health problems. And for many functional gastrointestinal conditions like gut pathogens, leaky gut and food sensitivities, this is definitely the case – which is why you might want to get tested and uncover the root cause of your constipation – learn more about those HERE.
But, constipation itself can also be the root cause of other symptoms and conditions. Constipation can wreak havoc with your insides, stemming from one of three main issues 1. Toxin reabsorption in the colon, including excess hormones, that would normally be excreted in the stool . 2. Imbalance of intestinal flora, including a reduction in healthy species and overgrowths of unwanted bacteria or pathogens . 3. Structural and physical effects of large hard stools and the straining that commonly accompanies them .
It is these mechanisms that can cause a whole range of unwanted symptoms and are the side effects of constipation on the body that you may be struggling with right now…
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What’s The Easiest Way To Get Constipation Relief
Because constipation is frequently caused by your diet or water intake, Dr. Kalakota recommends starting your search for relief there.
“Increase your water intake to 64 ounces a day at the very minimum, barring any health conditions that would prevent you from drinking that much, of course,” says Dr. Kalakota. “You will also need to make it a point to get more fiber through your diet.”
The recommended fiber intake for men and women is about 35 and 25 grams per day, respectively. Most Americans get only 15 grams of fiber per day, Dr. Kalakota notes.
Foods rich in fiber include:
Walking and exercise are often other good fixes for constipation, since activity gets the bowels moving.
“If constipation persists despite these interventions, you might start to consider over-the-counter constipation medications,” says Dr. Kalakota.
At that point, it’s probably time to see your doctor about it, too.
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.
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Effects Of Constipation On The Skin
Another side-effect of toxicity associated with constipation is acne and skin breakouts. This happens when toxins and waste are re-absorbed back into the bloodstream via the colon, rather than being eliminated. From the bloodstream, these toxins can exit the body by its largest detoxification organ – the skin. The other mechanism by which constipation can impact skin is through the alteration of gut bacteria. This study showed that 54% of acne patients have significantly altered gut flora while probiotics have also been shown to reduce symptoms . One thing is for sure, beauty begins in the bowel.
What Happens To The Body When You Hold In Your Poop
The most common issue related to frequently holding in poop is constipation. Some studies suggest that this may be a habit transferred from childhood when children begin to hold in their poop to avoid painful bowel movements. No matter the reason, if you regularly hold in your bowel movements, you will likely cause constipation.
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Effects Of Constipation On Estrogen Dominance
Constipation can inhibit the excretion of unwanted estrogen from the body and promote its reabsorption . We are exposed to a lot of environmental sources of estrogens through toxins such as plastics, medications and hormones in the animal proteins we consume. This means that most people have excess oestrogen coming into the body that needs to be excreted each day. If we are constipated, these excess estrogens can be re-absorbed in the colon and cause elevated estrogen levels, a condition also associated with allergies , weight gain and fatigue .