Pharmacy First Scotland: Constipation Treatment From Your Pharmacy
Constipation isn’t usually serious and can be treated by a pharmacist. Your pharmacist may recommend that you contact your GP practice if required.
Also speak to your pharmacist if you think your child might be constipated. Laxatives are often recommended for children alongside diet and lifestyle changes.
You may be able to treat constipation yourself by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle . If these changes don’t help and the problem continues, you should see your pharmacist.
However, you should see your GP for advice if:
- you notice any rectal bleeding
- you notice any unexplained weight loss
- you have persistent tiredness
- your constipation lasts longer than 14 days without improvement
Q Can Constipation Cause Back Pain
Many patients complain of lower back pain when constipated. Causes connecting the two may include:
- Muscle strain from trying to force a bowel movement
- Pressure from abdominal bloating, gas, and swelling
If you already have a back condition, straining to defecate can make it worse. Abdominal pain is common when constipation has your digestive system backed up.
What Does The Research Say
Not an awful lot. Much of the research is poor quality and little of it includes the Bristol Stool Chart, measures of pain or quality of life.
This Cochrane Review on interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy compared bulk forming with stimulant laxatives in pregnant women. Data was poor but they concluded there was evidence that increasing fibre formed a better stool. The review states there is a need for further randomized controlled trials in different settings with a range of types of laxative and measurements of pain as well as stools.
Theres a lack of evidence on how best to prevent or treat constipation after childbirth.
A Cochrane Review published in 2015 evaluated effectiveness and safety of interventions for preventing postpartum constipation.* They included five trials, and, again, reporting was poor and none of the trials included pain, straining, incidence of constipation or quality of life. All trials did measure time to first bowel movement. They did not, however, record what the womans normal, pre-delivery pattern was. They recommended future trials should include behavioural and educational interventions and measure pain, straining and quality of life as well as time to first post-natal bowel movement.
Until that happens, we will all just have to continue trial and error. With our knees above our hips.
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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 .
- 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 .
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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You Have An Increased Risk Of Diverticulitis
Long-term constipation has its own special brand of side effects. They aren’t particularly nice, either. One is an increased risk of a phenomenon called diverticulitis, where diverticula are formed by the pressure of straining to pass your stool, and may eventually become infected if any nasties from the trapped stool get caught in them.
Will I Have Incontinence For My Entire Life
Sometimes incontinence is a short-term issue that will go away once the cause ends. This is often the case when you have a condition like a urinary tract infection . Once treated, frequent urination and leakage problems caused by a UTI typically end. This is also true for some women who experience bladder control issues during pregnancy. For many, the issues end in the weeks after delivery. However, other causes of incontinence are long-term and related to conditions that are managed throughout your life. If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or multiple sclerosis, you may have incontinence for a long period of time. In those cases, its important to talk to your provider about the best ways to manage your incontinence so that it doesnt interfere with your life.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It can be embarrassing to talk about bathroom habits with your healthcare provider. This embarrassment shouldnt stop you from treating incontinence, though. Often, your healthcare provider can help figure out the cause of your bladder control issue and help make it better. You dont need to deal with it alone. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to treat incontinence so that you can lead a full and active life without worrying about leakage.
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What May Interact With This Medicine
- other laxatives
This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.
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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Why Does Pregnancy Cause Incontinence
During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of physical changes. As your uterus stretches to hold the growing baby, a few things happen. Your bladder can be squished by the expanding baby, making your bladder hold less than before. You might experience an increased urgency to pee during pregnancy because your bladder cannot hold as much as before. This might become even more challenging towards the end of pregnancy when the baby is at its largest.
Another reason for incontinence during pregnancy is the weakening of your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are the support structures for all of the organs in your pelvis. During pregnancy, they can be stretched and weakened as your uterus expands.
You May Experience Impaction
If you really can’t get rid of your constipation problem, get prepared for a pile-up. The technical term for the accumulation of stool in your rectum and anus is fecal impaction, which sounds better than “poo traffic jam” but amounts to much the same thing. This is a serious medical condition and you’ll need to get help to solve it, which will likely involve heavy-duty laxatives, a lot of water, and possibly a suppository or enema.
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If you’ve ever gotten the runs while running, you know that exercise has a regulating effect on the body. Inactivity does the complete opposite: “A low level of physical activity is a major risk factor for constipation,” says James-Stevenson. “This is likely related to decreased gut movement and less blood flow to the gut.” So if your pooping schedule isn’t quite up to par, skipping out on your fitness routine isn’t going to make your situation any better.
“Exercise increases blood flow to the vital organs of the body, including the digestive tract, and increases your metabolism,” says Shah. Any type of exercise is helpful in combatting constipationincluding walking, running, biking, swimming, yoga, and moreso pick your favorite and go nuts.
“Iron and calcium supplements can cause constipation, as they can both slow down the contractions of the GI system,” says Joann Kwah, M.D., attending gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. But proceed with caution: These vitamins are typically recommended by doctors if you have a specific deficiency. So if you have a medical condition that requires you to take them and the side effects are kicking you right in the gut, you can always ask your physician for alternative options .
Q: Is Constipation Ever An Emergency
A: It can be, but most often is not.
It would be an emergency if you hadnt had a bowel movement for a prolonged time, and youre also experiencing major bloating or severe abdominal pain, notes Dr. Zutshi.
Slight symptoms will not take you to the emergency room. You should go to the emergency room if your symptoms are severe.
Other warningsigns to watch for are:
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How Is A Large Bowel Obstruction Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam to check for a swollen abdomen or masses. Usually, the stomach isnt tender to touch.
Your healthcare provider will use a stethoscope to listen to the intestines. Loud or high-pitched bowel sounds or a quiet bowel may indicate a problem.
Your provider may order these tests:
- Blood tests: A blood test checks for signs of infection and dehydration.
- X-rays: Abdominal X-rays can show a bowel blockages location. These images can also show air around the intestine or diaphragm . Air in these places can indicate a dead bowel or rupture.
- CT scan: If x-rays reveal a problem, your provider may perform a CT scan. This imaging procedure provides more detailed photos than x-rays.
- Barium enema x-ray: A barium enema x-ray is a lower gastrointestinal exam. While you are sedated with anesthesia, a provider inserts a catheter into the anus. The catheter fills the intestine with a safe, white barium liquid. This liquid travels through the intestine while a machine takes x-rays.
What Causes A Large Bowel Obstruction
People of all ages and genders can get large bowel obstructions.
In children younger than three, a disorder called intussusception may cause blockages. In children with this problem, one segment of the intestine collapses inside another segment . The collapsed segments can block the bowel and blood flow.
Up to half of adults who develop a large bowel obstruction have colorectal cancer. A cancerous tumor causes the blockage.
Other causes of bowel obstructions in adults include:
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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.
What Causes Incontinence
There are many different reasons that you could experience incontinence. These causes can vary depending on if youre a woman or man. Some causes are temporary health conditions that usually go away once treated. In those cases, your incontinence also usually stops once the condition is treated. Incontinence can be caused by long-term medical conditions. When you experience leakage issues because of a chronic condition, its usually something you will have to manage over a longer period of time. Even with treatment, chronic conditions usually dont go away. Incontinence may have to be managed over time as a symptom of your chronic condition.
Temporary or short-term causes of incontinence can include:
- Urinary tract infections : An infection inside your urinary tract can cause pain and increase your need to pee more often. Once treated, the urge to urinate frequently usually goes away.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, your uterus places extra pressure on the bladder as it expands. Most women who experience incontinence during pregnancy notice that it goes away in the weeks after delivery.
- Medications: Incontinence can be a side effect of certain medications, including diuretics and antidepressants.
- Beverages: There are certain drinks like coffee and alcohol that can make you need to urinate much more often. If you stop drinking these beverages, your need to urinate frequently typically goes down.
- Constipation: Chronic constipation can cause you to have bladder control issues.
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What Is This Medicine
LACTULOSE is a laxative derived from lactose. It helps to treat chronic constipation and to treat or prevent hepatic encephalopathy or coma. These are brain disorders that result from liver disease.
This medicine may be used for other purposes ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME: Acilac, Cephulac, Cholac, Chronulac, Constilac, Constulose, Enulose, Generlac
How Do I Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are a simple way to build strength in your pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are done by lifting, holding and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. You can find these muscles by stopping the flow of urine mid-stream while youre urinating. Only do this until you learn how to find the muscles stopping the flow of urine mid-stream isnt healthy over a long period of time.
When youre doing Kegel exercises, start small. Only hold it for a few second. Over time you can slowly work your way up to longer and longer stretches of holding the muscles tight.
Unlike other types of workouts, no one can tell when youre doing Kegel exercises. Aim to do several sets of Kegel exercises twice a day.
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Set Yourself Up For Success
Set aside time each day so you can take your time in the bathroom. Allow yourself enough time to have a bowel movement without distractions or feeling rushed. Plus, establishing a routine may help.
“Our lives can get busy, especially if you feel like you’re in a rush to get to work in the morning, but it’s important to not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement,” says Dr. Johal.
Putting some focus on the position of your body during a bowel movement can make a difference, too.
“Some people find that placing a small stepstool under their feet while sitting on the toilet makes bowel movements easier this position can help you flex your hips and place your pelvis in a more natural squat position,” says Dr. Johal.
If none of these changes help unblock you, adding processed or synthetic fiber to your daily diet, or taking a stool softener, a rectal glycerin suppository or laxatives can help.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, call your doctor, says Dr. Johal. They can help you determine what treatments might work best for you.
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.
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Pregnancy Childbirth And Bowels
Pregnancy is particularly challenging because the growing uterus squashes the colon and the hormonal changes make it sluggish. Many pregnant women are prescribed iron supplements which increase the risk of constipation. Fear of post-delivery pain from tear or episiotomy sites can cause anxiety around bowel movements.
These issues are often missed in antenatal appointments and classes because of time constraints. It is very important, however, that women get good information about good bowel management particularly if she has had a tear or episiotomy. You are going to nurse that first postnatal poo along and have to resist the urge to put a bonnet on it and give it a name.
Worry and discomfort are going to have a negative impact on maternal happiness and breastfeeding. Improved education might reduce the need for medication in this population. Toilet straining places stress on pelvic tissues and is associated with vaginal prolapse, rectal prolapse and piles. None of which are remotely funny.
Constipation Can Cause Abdominal Pain
When you are not eating a well-balanced diet and suffer with constipation, your stomach may experience painful bloating and gas.
Abdominal pain is caused by inflammation, distention of an organ, or by loss of blood supply to an organ. It may also be caused by harsh contractions of intestinal muscles.
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