Constipation

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By Medifit Education

CONSTIPATION

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CONSTIPATION DEFINITION

Chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools that persists for several weeks or longer.

Constipation is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week.

Though occasional constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation that can interfere with their ability to go about their daily tasks. Chronic constipation may also cause excessive straining to have a bowel movement and other signs and symptoms.

Treatment for chronic constipation depends on the underlying cause. Though, in some cases, a cause for chronic constipation is never found.

 

CONSTIPATION CAUSES

  • Antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum
  • Changes in your usual diet or activities
  • Colon cancer
  • Eating a lot of dairy products.
  • Eating disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
  • Not being active
  • Not enough water or fiber in your diet
  • Overuse of laxatives (Over time, this weakens the bowel muscles)
  • Pregnancy
  • Problems with the nerves and muscles in the digestive system
  • Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, which some people do because of hemorrhoids
  • Some medications (especially strong pain drugs such as narcotics, antidepressants, or iron pills)
  • Stress
  • Under active thyroid (hypothyroidism)

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CONSTIPATION PATHOPHYSIOLOGY

Constipation is broadly defined as an unsatisfactory defecation characterized by infrequent stools, difficult stool passage or both. The common approach to the pathophysiology of constipation groups the disorder into primary and secondary causes. Primary causes are intrinsic problems of colonic or anorectal function, whereas secondary causes are related to organic disease, systemic disease or medications. The normal process of colonic transit and defecation is discussed, and the etiology of constipation is reviewed.

 

CONSTIPATION SYMPTOMS

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:

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

If the person has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with

  • crampy abdominal pain,
  • excessive gas (flatulence),
  • a sense of bloating, and
  • a change in bowel habits

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CONSTIPATION DIAGNOSIS

Constipation is a very common condition. Your GP will not usually need to carry out any tests or procedures, but will confirm a diagnosis of constipation based on your medical history and your symptoms.

 

CONSTIPATION TREATMENT

Treatment for chronic constipation usually begins with diet and lifestyle changes meant to increase the speed at which stool moves through your intestines. If those changes don’t help, your doctor may recommend medications or surgery.

 

Diet and lifestyle changes

Your doctor may recommend the following changes to relieve your constipation:

  • Increase your fiber intake. Adding fiber to your diet increases the weight of your stool and speeds its passage through your intestines. Slowly begin to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals.

Your doctor may recommend a specific number of grams of fiber to consume each day. In general, aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in your daily diet.

A sudden increase in the amount of fiber you eat can cause bloating and gas, so start slowly and work your way up to your goal over a few weeks.

  • Exercise most days of the week. Physical activity increases muscle activity in your intestines. Try to fit in exercise most days of the week.
  • Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. Take your time in the bathroom, allowing yourself enough time to have a bowel movement without distractions and without feeling rushed.

Laxatives

Several types of laxatives exist. Each works somewhat differently to make it easier to have a bowel movement.

Examples of laxatives include:

  • Fiber supplements. Fiber supplements add bulk to your stool. Common ingredients include methylcellulose, psyllium, calcium polycarbophil and guar gum. Brand names include FiberCon, Metamucil, Konsyl and Citrucel.
  • Stimulants.
  • Osmotics. Osmotic laxatives help fluids move through the colon. Examples include milk of magnesia, magnesium citrate, lactulose, polyethylene glycol (MiraLax) and sodium phosphate enema (Fleet Enema).
  • Lubricants. Lubricants enable stool to move through your colon more easily. One example of a lubricant is mineral oil.
  • Stool softeners. Stool softeners moisten the stool by drawing water from the intestines. Examples include Colace and Surfak.

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By Medifit Education

www.themedifit.in