Constipation: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Constipation: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Constipation is a prevalent digestive issue that millions of people experience globally. While making lifestyle adjustments and using natural remedies can frequently reduce the symptoms of constipation, some individuals may...

What all we need to know about Constipation?

  • A prevalent digestive issue where people have trouble passing stools is constipation.
  • It happens when the colon takes in too much water from the food that it consumes, leading to difficult-to-pass, hard, dry stools.
  • Less than three times per week bowel movements and hard, dry stools that are challenging to pass are normal symptoms.
  • Other than discomfort, bloating, and abdominal pain, constipation can occasionally result in problems like haemorrhoids or anal fissures.
  • Additionally, underlying medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid problems, or neurological issues can manifest as constipation. Constipation is generally not serious, but it can still be annoying and uncomfortable for the person who has it.

Why did this occur?

  • When your intestinal system isn't functioning as it should, you can get constipated.
  • Normally, food passes through the small intestine and stomach, where it is digested, and the minerals are absorbed.
  •  The waste then enters your colon, which is part of your big intestine.
  • The waste substance becomes more solid in the colon after absorbing water from it. The stool hardens and becomes dry and difficult to pass if the waste material passes through the intestines too slowly, absorbing too much water.
  • Numerous factors, including inadequate hydration, inadequate dietary fibre, inactivity, and the use of specific medicines, can contribute to this.

Who is more Susceptible?

  • One who doesn't consume enough fluids: They can become dehydrated and experience constipation by not drinking enough water or other fluids.
  • Adults over 50: As people get older, their digestive systems may deteriorate, which increases their chance of constipation.
  • Women who are expecting: Hormonal changes and strain from the expanding uterus can cause the digestive system to slow down and cause constipation in expecting mothers.
  • Sedentary individuals: Constipation can be brought on by a lack of physical exercise or by spending a lot of time in bed.
  • People who consume little fibre: Because fibre keeps the stools soft and encourages regular bowel motions, a diet low in fibre can cause constipation.
  • Dehydrated people: Dehydration and constipation are both caused by not consuming enough water or other fluids.
  • People who take certain medications: Opioids, antacids with calcium or aluminium, and some antidepressants all have the potential to induce constipation as a side effect.
  • Individuals with specific physical conditions: Constipation can be made more likely by a number of illnesses, including irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, and neurological problems.

Types of Constipation:

Constipation can be of two primary types:

  • Primary constipation: This type of constipation is frequently brought on by factors including a low-fibre diet, dehydration, a lack of activity, or drugs. There is no underlying medical ailment linked to it.

These kinds of primary constipation can be further divided:

  • Constipation with slow transit happens when the muscles in the colon move too slowly, which makes it challenging for waste to travel through.
  • Dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles, which aid in regulating bowel motions, is referred to as pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Normal transit constipation: This condition develops when the muscles in the intestines are functioning normally, but the stool moves too slowly, causing constipation.

Constipation that develops later in life is known as secondary constipation and is brought on by an underlying medical condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, neurological disorders, or certain drugs. Treating the underlying medical problem is the usual method of treating secondary constipation.

What lifestyle do we need to follow?

  • Consume a diet rich in fibre to keep your stools moist and to ensure easy digestion. Incorporate at least 25–30 grams of fibre from fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes into your diet each day.
  • To maintain your faeces soft and simple to pass, drink plenty of water. Water intake needs to be at least Eight glasses (64 ounces) each day.
  • Workout regularly: Regular exercise can assist to promote bowel motions and ward off constipation.
  • When necessary, depart: When you sense the urge to urinate, don't put it off. Constipation can occur if you hold it in.
  • Create a pattern for your bowel movements: Try to visit the restroom at the same time each day to create a routine for your bowel movements.
  • Don't ignore the desire to urinate because doing so can cause constipation.
  • Manage stress: Prolonged stress can cause constipation, so attempt to reduce stress using breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.

It's crucial to consult your healthcare provider if you experience chronic or extreme constipation in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions and decide the best course of action for you.

What is IBS? And how is it related to Constipation?

  • The large intestine is affected by the common digestive disease known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • The indications and symptoms of it can vary from person to person, but they typically include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or both, as well as abdominal pain or discomfort.
  • The muscles in the colon may be excessively sensitive and contract more often than they ought to in individuals with IBS, which can cause discomfort in the stomach, gas, and changes in bowel habits.
  •  IBS is believed to be caused by several factors, including altered gut motility, increased sensitivity to particular foods, stress, and genetics, though the precise cause of the condition is unknown.
  • One of the most typical IBS complaints is constipation. It happens when the faeces pass through the colon too slowly, becoming dry, hard, and challenging to pass. When they are constipated, people with IBS may also feel bloated, uncomfortable, and stomach pain.

It's important to remember that not all IBS sufferers experience constipation, and not all occurrences of constipation are caused by IBS Consult your doctor as soon as possible if you frequently experience constipation or other stomach problems to identify the underlying cause and the best course of action.

How are worry and constipation related?

  • Stress and constipation may be related. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which the body releases in reaction to stress, can both negatively impact the digestive system in a variety of ways.
  • First, stress can make the muscles in the digestive system contract less forcefully or more slowly, which can slow down the passage of stools through the colon and cause constipation.
  • Second, worry may alter the composition of gut bacteria, which may also be a factor in constipation. Stress can alter the equilibrium of the gut microbiome, which is crucial for digestion and bowel motions and affects gut motility and stool consistency.
  • Third, stress has the potential to alter eating patterns, which can result in dietary and hydration changes that can also lead to constipation. People who are under stress, for instance, might consume more processed foods and fewer high-fibre foods, or they might not drink enough water, both of which can cause constipation.
  • Not all instances of constipation are brought on by stress, and there may be other underlying medical issues that require attention. However, it may be worthwhile to investigate stress-reducing methods like exercise, meditation, or counselling if you have chronic constipation.

Constipation has been determined to be the cause:

  • Constipation is typically identified by a healthcare expert following a thorough physical examination and review of your medical history. The patient's bowel habits will be discussed during the examination, including how frequently they go, the consistency of their stools, and whether they experience any discomfort or soreness.
  • To help identify the underlying cause of constipation, if any, the healthcare practitioner may also order some tests in addition to the physical examination. These exams might involve:
    • tests: to look for underlying diseases like diabetes or hyperthyroidism.
    • Imaging tests: to look for obstructions or other anomalies in the colon, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.
    • During a colonoscopy procedure, a small, flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the intestine to look for any obstructions or abnormalities.
    • Rectal examinations and anorectal manometry, which assess the pressure and efficiency of the anal sphincter muscles and rectum, are examples of anorectal tests.
    • Rectal examinations and anorectal manometry, which assess the pressure and efficiency of the anal sphincter muscles and rectum, are examples of anorectal tests.
    • Transit studies, like a marker study or a defecography, can be used to assess how stools travel through the digestive tract.
    • The patient's symptoms and medical background will determine the precise tests that are requested. In some circumstances, the healthcare professional may diagnose idiopathic constipation, which indicates that there is no known reason for the symptoms.

Home remedies to Treat constipation:

  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water, which can help to soften faeces and ease passage.
  • Raising your fibre intake can help you have more regular bowel motions and more voluminous stools. Fruits, vegetables, whole cereals, and legumes are full of fibre and can aid with this.
  • Regular physical exercise can aid in promoting bowel movements and enhancing overall digestive health.
  • Utilise natural laxatives: Foods such as flaxseed, prunes, and figs can aid in promoting bowel motions and relieving constipation.
  • Create a regular bowel practise and give yourself enough time to completely empty your bowels to avoid constipation.
  • Try abdominal massage: Circularly massaging the abdomen can encourage bowel motions and ease constipation.
  • Drink herbal tea: Senna, dandelion, and peppermint herbal teas all have natural laxative effects that can assist with constipation.

It's crucial to keep in mind that while these natural cures may work for some individuals, they might not for everyone, and they might not be suitable for those who have certain medical issues or are on specific medications. It's crucial to discuss proper treatment choices with your healthcare physician if you experience chronic or severe constipation.

Medical Treatment for Constipation:

Constipation is a prevalent digestive issue that millions of people experience globally. While making lifestyle adjustments and using natural remedies can frequently reduce the symptoms of constipation, some individuals may need medical attention to control their condition.

  • People with IBS-C or chronic constipation are frequently advised to take prescription medications because they can improve fluid secretion in the digestive system or stimulate bowel movements. Examples of drugs that may be given for these conditions include, linaclotide, and lubiprostone. Although they are typically well-tolerated, these medicines can have unwanted effects like nausea, diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps.
  • Osmotic suppositories like lactulose, PEG, and hydroxides of magnesium can also effectively cure constipation because they suck water into the colon to relax and make it easier to pass faeces. They can, however, also have unfavourable side effects, such as gas, bloating, and cramps.
  • Senna and bisacodyl are two stimulant laxatives that function by tightening the muscles in the colon and prompting the colon to pass stool. These medications may be effective, but they also carry a risk of side effects including dehydration, abdominal cramps, and diarrhoea.

What is Enema and how does it treat constipation?

  • A medical procedure called an enema includes injecting a liquid or gas into the rectum in order to encourage bowel movement and treat constipation. There are several different kinds of enemas that may be used to treat constipation.
  • Saline or tap water may be used in some enemas, which work by softening stool and making it simpler to release. Others might include mineral oil, which can lubricate the colon and make it easier for stools to transit. To encourage bowel motions, medicated enemas may occasionally be used.
  • Enemas are typically safe and successful for treating constipation, but they can be uncomfortable or painful while being administered. When performing an enema at home, it's critical to follow the directions provided by your healthcare practitioner or the product label.
  • Not everyone should use enemas, especially those who suffer from illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease or rectal haemorrhaging. It's crucial to discuss with your doctor the possible advantages and disadvantages of using enemas to treat constipation.

Surgical Procedure for constipation:

  • Surgery is not frequently used to treat constipation and is only suggested when all other methods have failed. There are numerous surgery techniques:
  • Colectomy: The colon may be partially or completely removed during this surgical operation. People with extreme constipation brought on by a blocked colon or other structural issues may benefit from it.
  • Rectopexy: To enhance rectal function and avoid rectal prolapse, the rectum is connected to the sacrum, a bone in the pelvis, during this procedure. People with persistent constipation brought on by a weak rectal muscle may benefit from it.

Risks associated with surgical constipation therapy include bleeding, infection, and intestinal perforation.

In summation, constipation is a widespread issue that can be treated with lifestyle modifications, natural remedies, and prescription medications. Constipation can be avoided and treated by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and engaging in frequent exercise. Home treatments like taking more probiotics and fibre are also beneficial. Laxatives, drugs, and enemas are common medical treatments; surgery is only used as a last option in severe cases. For the right course of therapy, consultation with a healthcare professional is essential. Constipation can be cured and digestive health can be enhanced with the right treatment.