Constipation is a condition where an individual has hard faeces which is difficult to expel. It happens generally when the colon has absorbed too much water from the food that is in the colon. Thus, slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water will be absorbed which makes the faeces dry and hard. This makes the bowels can become very painful.
The main symptoms of constipation are difficulty and straining while passing stools or passing fewer stool than usual.
Other symptoms include:
- stomach ache
- stomach cramps
- feeling bloated and nauseous
- losing appetite
Some causes of constipation are:
1) Lack of fiber in the diet
People whose diets include a good quantity of fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are significantly less likely to suffer from constipation. Fiber helps in easy bowel movements and prevents constipation.
2) Physical inactivity
Physically active people have less chances of constipation than inactive people. Old and bedridden people who are less active are at the risk of having constipation as it is believed that physical activity keeps the metabolism high, keeping bowel movement steady
There are a lot of medications known to cause constipation like antidepressants, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blocking drugs, aluminum-containing antacids, diuretics
Some people may also become constipated when they consume milk and dairy products.
5) Irritable bowel syndrome
People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) get constipation more frequently,than others.
Hormonal changes brought about during pregnancy can make a woman more susceptible to constipation. Uterus may also sometimes compress the intestine, slowing down the passage of food.
Slowing down of metabolism during old age may make the muscles in the digestive tract to not work as well as they used to which may lead to constipation.
8) Changes in routine
While travelling the routine of a person changes which can affect the digestive system, resulting in constipation. Changes in meal times, bed time, toilet can raise the risk of constipation.
9) Overuse of laxatives
Laxatives are help in bowel movements, However, using them regularly makes a person become dependent on them, which increases the risk of constipation when they are stopped.
10) Not going to the toilet when needed
Ignoring the urge to pass or delaying it may make the stool drier and harder leading to constipation.
11) Not drinking enough water
Sodas and drinks containing caffeine can cause dehydration and worsen constipation. Alcohol also dehydrates the body leading to constipation. Drinking plenty of water reduces the risk of constipation.
12) Problems with the colon or rectum
Tumors, scar tissue, diverticulosis, and abnormal narrowing of the colon or rectum, known as colorectal stricture can cause constipation.
13) Some diseases and conditions
Some diseases slow down the movement of faeces through the colon, rectum, or anus can cause constipation. They are:
- Neurological disorders: Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries, and chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction can lead to constipation
- Endocrine and metabolic conditions: Uremia,diabetes, hypercalcemia, poor glycemic control, and hypothyroidism
- Systemic diseases: These include lupus, scleroderma, amyloidosis
- Cancer: In cancer patients, it occurs mainly due to pain medications and chemotherapy. It may also happen if a tumor blocks or squeezes the digestive system
Natural remedies for constipation
Ways to ease the symptoms of constipation without using medication are:
- Increasing fiber intake
- Drinking more water
- Regular exercise and activity can ease constipation
- Going to the bathroom at a fixed time daily
- Avoiding holding in stools
- Elevate your feet while passing faeces, it will ease constipation
Complications due to Constipation
Severe constipation can develop into serious conditions like:
- rectal bleeding
- anal fissure, or small tear around the anus
- hemorrhoids, or swollen, inflamed blood vessels in the rectum
- faecal impaction, or collection of stool in the anus and rectum, leading to an obstruction in the path to leave the body
Dealing with constipation before it becomes one of these conditions can prevent further discomfort.