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Constipation in Short

We are always busy trying to do as much work as possible, to visit so many places, to achieve all the goals we have set. We are always on the run. When the usual rhythm of life is changed, we become angry and disappointed, especially, if our plans are foiled by such a trivial thing as a digestive disorder.

Constipation is a problem, which occurs to the majority of people at some points of their life. More than 4 million Americans report of a frequent constipation per year. Mostly women and people older than 65 are predisposed to this state. In the majority of cases, though, the problem is easily solved.

Constipation is defined as having defecation fewer than three times a week. Many people believe that it is necessary to have a bowel movement once or twice a day. This would be ideal. Still, every person develops his/her own habit of stool elimination – from three times a day to three times a week. This is considered to be normal. The sign of a problem is difficulty during defecation or the sensation of the incomplete bowel evacuation along with very seldom bowel movements.

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With constipation defecation can be painful, straining with the sensation of bloating and full bowel; stools are dry, hard, small in size and difficult to eliminate, because they lack water.

An interesting note is that constipation is, actually, not a disease, but a symptom, indicating that there exists another problem in the organism. Therefore, the causes of the state described can greatly vary.

One of the most frequent reasons for developing constipation is a dietary lacking in fiber and high in fats. Fiber is not digested in the body. It is eliminated out of it almost unchanged, making stools softer and easier to pass through the intestines. The main sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Body dehydration can also result in hard dry stools. Much water and juice intake may help, but liquids that contain caffeine and alcohol must be avoided.

The most common reason for constipation in older people is lack of physical activity. It can also occur in people, who must stay in bed during an illness.

Changes in life and aging provoke constipation as well. For example, pregnancy and periods in women alter the hormonal level, and the uterus compresses the intestine. Traveling to the places with different dietary habits can cause difficulty defecation due to the new, unusual meals.

Busy people may ignore or want to postpone a bowel movement, waiting for the more appropriate moment (for example, when the meeting is over). By that time the urge to defecate may pass and this may result in constipation.

Many medications can also become the reason for seldom bowel movements. Some of them are: narcotic pain relievers, blood pressure and antiparkinson drugs, antispasmodics and antidepressants, aluminum and calcium containing antacids, iron supplements and others.

Constipation is common during specific disease and conditions, the most common of which is a stroke. Others include some neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine conditions (diabetes, hypercalcemia, etc.), and systemic disorders (lupus, scleroderma).

Problems with the colon and rectum almost always provoke constipation. Intestinal obstructions (cancer, tumors, scars) narrow the intestine or rectum, which makes it difficult to defecate. Nerve and muscle problems in the colon, rectum, and anus cause idiopathic constipation, a state, when intestines cannot function properly.

The treatment of the constipation depends on the cause and on the person. In the majority of cases dietary plan with a great number of beans, fruits, grains, and vegetables improves the situation. In the other cases lifestyle changes (physical activity, enough time for bowel movements, and not ignoring the urge to defecate) give the best result.

If those methods, mentioned above, have no effect, laxatives are recommended. Though, many of them are sold without a prescription, it is better to discuss this issue with a doctor to choose the most appropriate type of the medications. The vast majority of them may need the enlargement of the dose, since body gets used to them. They must be taken for a short period of time in order to avoid dependence. Some types of laxatives are: bulk-forming, stimulants, stool softeners, serotonin agonists, lubricants, osmotics, etc.

Biofeedback is used, when it is necessary to train “lazy” muscles, which do not work properly, to control bowel movements.

At last, surgical removal of the colon may be considered, if the benefits are undeniable.

In short, the real truth of life is that the lifestyle and exercising seem to be the two powerful means, which can prevent the development of the majority of diseases and conditions we suffer from so often.

Be healthy!


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