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Constipation

What is constipation, it’s reasons and treatment?

What is constipation, it’s reasons and treatment?

What is constipation?

Stool passage is a constipation issue. Less than three stools per week or difficulty passing the stool are common indicators of constipation.

Constipation occurs rather frequently. Constipation can result from a low intake of dietary fiber, water, and activity. However, there could be other medical issues or certain medications to blame.

Usually, nonprescription medications or dietary and activity modifications are used to alleviate constipation. Medication, medication adjustments, or other therapies recommended by a medical expert may be necessary to relieve constipation.

Treating a different illness or condition that might induce or exacerbate constipation may be necessary for long-term constipation, often known as chronic constipation.

Constipation: How prevalent is it?

If you’re experiencing constipation, you’re not alone. One of the most common gastrointestinal issues in the US is constipation. Constipation causes at least 2.5 million people to visit their doctor annually.

What are the reasons for constipation?

Bowel movement patterns differ from person to person. Three times a day to three times a week is the usual range. Therefore, it’s critical to understand what is normal for you.

Constipation generally results from stool passing through the large intestine, also known as the colon, too slowly. The body takes in too much water from the stool if it moves slowly. Stools may get dry, hard, and challenging to pass.

Lifestyle factors

The following conditions may cause slow stool movement:

  • Make sure you’re getting enough water.
  • Consume adequate fiber in your diet.
  • Engage in regular exercise.
  • When the urge to pass stool strikes, use the restroom.

Medication 

Certain medications, especially opioid painkillers, have the potential to cause constipation as a side effect. Certain medications used to treat the following disorders are among the others that may also induce constipation:

  • Pain
  • elevated blood pressure
  • seizures
  • Depression
  • illnesses affecting the neurological system
  • allergies
  • issues with the muscles of the pelvis
  • The pelvic floor muscles are those that support the organs at the base of the torso. To pass stool from the rectum, one must be able to bear down and relax these muscles. Chronic constipation may result from issues with these muscles’ weakness or coordination.

Blockages in the rectum or colon

Stool passage can be obstructed by alterations or damage to tissues in the colon or rectum. A blockage may also result from malignancies in the colon, rectum, or surrounding organs.

Additional elements

Numerous illnesses can impair the function of the hormones, muscles, or neurons involved in bowel movement. Numerous factors can be connected to chronic constipation, such as:

  • syndrome of irritable bowels
  • Diabetes
  • sclerosis multiplex
  • injury or malfunction of the nerves
  • Hyperthyroidism, another name for an overactive thyroid
  • Parkinson’s illness
  • maternity
  • There are situations when the cause of persistent constipation is unknown

How can one diagnose constipation?

Since most people have constipation occasionally, the tests a doctor performs will depend on the length and intensity of the condition. In addition, the patient’s age, any blood in the stool, any recent changes in bowel habits, and any weight loss will be considered by the physician.

Constipation diagnoses could include

  • Medical background

To help identify the source of constipation, the doctor will need to know about the symptoms, including how long they have lasted, how often you have bowel movements and other details.

  • Physical assessment

A digital rectal examination (DRE), in which the physician examines the tone of the muscle that seals up the anus with a gloved and lubricated finger, may also be part of a physical examination. This examination also aids in identifying any rectum enlargement, discomfort, obstruction, blood, and the amount and quality of feces.

Additional diagnostic examinations could consist of

Lower gastrointestinal (GI) series; alternatively known as barium enema. The rectum, the large intestine, and the lower portion of the small intestine are all examined during a lower GI series. An enema is used to inject barium, a metallic, chemical, chalky liquid, into the rectum to coat organs and make them visible on an X-ray. Abdominal X-rays reveal obstructions (blockages), strictures (narrowed regions), and other issues.

  • Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy gives the physician a full view of the large intestine and is frequently used to detect abnormal growths, inflammatory tissue, ulcers, and bleeding. It entails passing a long, flexible, illuminated tube into the rectum and into the colon to place a colonoscope. Using a colonoscope, a physician can view the lining of the colon, take tissue samples for additional analysis, and potentially treat any issues that are found.

  • Sigmoidoscopy

An examination of a segment of the large intestine by a doctor during a diagnostic technique called a sigmoidoscopy can assist in determining the source of bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and abnormal growth. Via the rectum, a short, flexible, illuminated tube known as a sigmoidoscope is introduced into the intestine. To make it easier to see inside, the scope inflates the gut by blowing air into it.

Causes of constipation
Causes of constipation

Investigation of colorectal transit

This exam reveals how efficiently food passes through the colon. The patient ingests capsules that contain tiny markers that show up on an X-ray. Throughout the test, the patient consumes a high-fiber diet, and multiple abdominal X-rays are obtained three to seven days after the capsule is swallowed to track the markers’ progress through the colon.

Tests of anorectal function. These examinations identify constipation brought on by aberrant anus or rectum function.

How to treat Constipation?

Your doctor will decide on a constipation treatment plan based on the following factors:

  • Your medical history, age, and general health
  • The severity of the illness
  • Your ability to tolerate particular drugs, treatments, or procedures
  • Anticipations on the progression of this illness
  • Your choice or opinion

Dietary and lifestyle modifications are the most common ways to treat constipation, as they both reduce symptoms and help avoid the illness altogether. Possible course of treatment:

  • Diet adjustments

A daily fiber intake of 20 to 35 grams aids in the production of soft, viscous stools. While including foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and bran cereals can help increase the amount of fiber in the diet. Restricting foods that have little to no fiber, like processed foods, ice cream, cheeses, and meats, can also be beneficial.

  • Laxatives

If diet and lifestyle modifications don’t work, laxatives could be given. Removing or altering a prescription

  • Biofeedback 

Anorectal dysfunction-related chronic constipation is treated with biofeedback. The muscles that regulate the discharge of bowel motions are retrained during this treatment.

Adjusting one’s lifestyle to include drinking more water and juice, exercising frequently, and allocating adequate time each day for bowel motions might all be beneficial.

What consequences might constipation cause?

Hemorrhoids, which result from straining to pass stool, and anal fissures, or breaks in the skin surrounding the anus, which happens when hard stool stretches the sphincter muscle, are two issues that can arise from constipation. There may be rectal bleeding as a result.

Rectal prolapse, a condition in which a tiny portion of the intestinal lining protrudes from the anal orifice, can also occasionally result from straining. Fecal impaction, which primarily affects youngsters and older individuals, can also be brought on by constipation. The rectum and intestine are so jam-packed with hard stool that the colon’s natural pushing action is insufficient to remove it.

Signs and symptoms

Constipation symptoms include:

  • less than three excretions every week
  • clumpy, hard, or dry stools
  • strained or painful stools to pass
  • a sensation that some excrement is still present
  • a sensation of obstruction in the rectum
  • the requirement to pass stool using a finger

If two or more of these symptoms persist for three months or more, it is considered chronic constipation.

When to visit a physician

Schedule a visit with your physician if any of the following conditions are causing your constipation:

  • symptoms exceeding three weeks
  • symptoms that make performing daily tasks challenging
  • bleeding on toilet paper or rectum bleeding
  • You have black or bloody stools
  • Additional odd modifications to the color or form of the stools
  • Stomach pain that doesn’t stop
  • Weight loss that happens naturally

Factors at risk

The following variables may make you more susceptible to persistent constipation:

  • Being a mature adult
  • Being a female
  • Engaging in little to no exercise
  • Possessing a mental illness, such as depression or eating disorder.

Prevention

The following advice will assist you in preventing constipation

  • Consume a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other high-fiber meals
  • Consume less low-fiber items, such as meats, dairy products, and processed foods
  • Make sure to stay hydrated
  • Continue to be active and work out frequently
  • Don’t resist the impulse to urinate
  • Establish a routine for removing waste, particularly after eating

FAQs

The following are frequently asked questions related to constipation that you too many have. 

Can internal damage or other health issues result from constipation?

You may experience a few issues if you don’t have regular, gentle bowel motions. Among the difficulties are:

  • Hemorrhoids are enlarged, irritated veins in your rectum.
  • Anal fissures are tears in the lining of your anus caused by hardened stool attempting to pass through.
  • A disease called diverticulitis affects the pouches (diverticula) that occasionally grow off the wall of your colon due to stool that has become stuck and inflamed.
  • Much excrement accumulated in your rectum and anus (fecal impaction).
  • Straining to move your bowels can cause damage to your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles aid in bladder control, among other functions. Urine leakage from the bladder can result from prolonged and excessive exertion (stress urinary incontinence).

Is it possible for my body to accumulate toxins and become sick from constipation?

Usually, this isn’t the case. Your colon is an expandable receptacle for your waste, even though it may feel uncomfortable and hold on to stool longer when you’re constipated. Toxins can only seep into your body through the walls of your colon during a severe disease (toxic megacolon).

When should I visit my medical professional?

Speak with a medical professional if:

  • For you, constipation is a novel issue.
  • Blood is visible in your feces.
  • You’re inadvertently losing weight.
  • Your bowel movements are really painful for you.
  • You’ve experienced constipation for longer than three weeks.
  • You have symptoms of outlet dysfunction constipation.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • Why am I constipated?
  • What can I take for immediate constipation relief?
  • What home remedies for constipation do you recommend?
  • What should I eat or drink to prevent constipation?
  • How else can I prevent constipation?

How many bowel motions does someone need to experience constipation?

The quantity of bowel motions is not the sole indicator of constipation. Some of the patients who come to us with constipation have a bowel movement at least once a day, while others have no problems at all and only use the restroom every two or three days.  

Constipation is the subjective expression of a condition of discomfort; in certain people, it mostly shows itself as trouble passing gas, necessitating physical assistance, or the use of suppositories. Some people experience infrequent bowel movements, whilst others have regular bowel motions daily, but the feces are difficult or unpleasant to pass. A patient should see a doctor to get a diagnosis and the best course of action if they have one or more of these symptoms on a regular basis.  

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