Constipation or constipation is defined as too rare, less than three times a week emptying of the bowel, a severe or persistent constipation means that the intestine is emptied less than once a week.
Constipation is a delicate topic for many people: few talk openly about their digestion.
However, anyone who has ever suffered from it knows that it can be a painful and frustrating condition.
Almost everyone suffers from constipation at some point in their lives.
Women and the elderly are affected more often than men.
How often bowel evacuation usually takes place varies greatly from person to person. Some people go to the toilet three times a day, while others only go to the toilet once or twice a week.
Constipation can be divided into two categories:
- Acute constipation occurs for a limited period of time, usually the patient is not constipated; constipation can be caused, for example, by travelling, an effect of lying still for a long time after surgery, or occurring after childbirth (normal birth or caesarean section).
- Chronic constipation is when symptoms persist for a long time.
Causes of constipation
In order to better understand constipation, it is necessary to know how the colon works: in the large intestine, fluid is extracted from the digestive products and solid waste products, the stool, are formed.
Due to the muscular activity of the large intestine, the stool is pushed towards the rectum.
Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much fluid or when the intestine is sluggish and muscle activity is greatly slowed down. Then the stool travels very slowly through the large intestine.
This makes the stool hard and dry.
Those who eat plenty of fiber are less likely to suffer from constipation.
Among the most common causes of constipation is a low-fiber or very fatty diet consisting of sausage, eggs and cheese.
Water-soluble and water-insoluble fiber includes the parts of fruits, vegetables and grains that the body cannot digest.
Water-soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like consistency in the intestine. The water-insoluble fibers remain virtually unchanged during their passage through the intestine. The volume and soft consistency of fiber help prevent hard and dry stools, which make bowel emptying difficult.
The American Dietetic Association recommends a daily ration of fiber of 20-35 g. Children and adults often eat too much refined and converted foods that have been deprived of fiber.
Anyone who eats a lot of ready-made products and ready-made foods, for example in a fast food restaurant, eats a diet low in fiber.
Research shows that constipation doesn’t necessarily improve with increased fluid intake, but many individuals feel a little relief when they drink water or lemon juice (preferably in the morning).
The fluid enters the intestine and increases the volume of the stool, which makes the excretion more fluid.
Those who suffer from constipation should drink plenty of fluids daily; However, caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and cola, worsen symptoms and cause dehydration.
Alcohol also leads to dehydration. It is important to drink fluids that enrich the body with water, especially when caffeine is consumed.
constipation is associated with antidepressants from the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Fluctin or Prozac (fluoxetine).
Lack of exercise
Too little exercise can cause constipation, especially in the elderly, even if doctors are unaware of the reasons for this.
Constipation, for example, often occurs as a result of an accident and illness, when you have to stay in bed and can’t go to work.
Some people experience constipation when they consume dairy products and milk.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome also often have constipation, which sometimes alternates with diarrhea, and back pain can also occur.
Unusual everyday routine, for example when travelling
When travelling, the usual everyday routine changes.
This can affect digestion and lead to sudden constipation. Meals are taken at different times, bedtimes change, etc.
Moving or staying at a friend’s
house Women often have difficulty defecating for a week or two after they move.
The same thing happens when they stay with their boyfriend; they do not feel at home and have problems emptying their intestines.
I noticed this with various young women, and they were not, as one might assume, 20, but 25 to 35 years old. This psychosomatic effect is quite common before and after a few days the women need a laxative.
Over time, they get used to the new environment and the new bath and their digestion goes back to their usual course.
Diseases that can cause constipation
The following diseases can slow down the transport of stool through the colon:
MS (multiple sclerosis), Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries, chronic, idiopathic pseudo-constipation.
Hormonal and metabolic diseases
uremia, diabetes, hypercalcemia (increased calcium level in the blood), high blood sugar levels, hypothyroidism (hypothyroidism).
Systemic diseases (diseases affecting various organs and tissues)
lupus, scleroderma and amyloidosis.
Cancer is mainly
to blame the drugs that are administered for pain and in the context of chemotherapy; or a tumor in the colon compresses or blocks the digestive system.
Other causes of constipation:
- Pregnancy and menopause
- before the onset of menstrual bleeding (especially with delayed menstruation)
- Misuse of laxatives
- arbitrarily suppressed urge to defecate
- Psychological causes, for example, stress and a life full of obligations can cause constipation
- certain diseases such as stroke
- Intestinal inflammation such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Worms and intestinal parasites
Constipation during pregnancy
constipation occurs more frequently during pregnancy; more than half of pregnant women suffer from it.
The cause of this is an increased level of progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the entire body, including those of the intestinal tract.
This means that food passes through the intestines more slowly.
The problem can be further complicated in pregnancy, when the growing uterus puts pressure on the colon.
Iron supplements can worsen constipation, especially at high dosages.
Constipation in children
In children, in addition to irregular bowel movements, the following signs and symptoms may occur:
- low energy
- easily irritable, angry or unhappy
- Bloating and foul-smelling stools
- Stomach ache
- general malaise
Symptoms of constipation
In addition to changing the usual bowel habits, constipation can also provoke the following symptoms:
- Cramps and pain in the stomach
- Constipation does not make you fat, but the patient feels a feeling of fullness (bloated abdomen)
When is constipation cause for concern?
If there is no bowel evacuation for 6-7 days in a row, the situation can become dangerous; then a thorough medical examination is necessary, especially if there are other diseases that affect the muscular activity of the intestine (peristalsis).
If you normally empty your intestines every day, you should worry after 3 days, because the constipation is not necessarily due to the diet.
Can constipation cause chronic complications?
It can happen that the skin in the area is injured (fissures) when the stool increases in volume and becomes hard.
This causes severe pain and bright red blood is visible on the toilet paper.
The treatment of fissures provides for lifestyle changes and laxatives for a softer bowel movement.
The doctor may prescribe creams or oils with anesthetic effects, such as glycerol trinitrate, for pain relief.
Chronic constipation and prolonged use of laxatives can result in a sluggish bowel that no longer functions properly without medication.
Constipation can become a vicious cycle.
Serious chronic constipation can cause intestinal obstruction.
This is especially likely in elderly and sick people. A large mass of hard stools (fekalom) becomes a plug and can block the intestine. The mass is so large that the intestinal muscles can not expel the stool.
Does a child need to undergo examinations?
For the diagnosis of idiopathic constipation (constipation without apparent cause), it is usually not necessary to carry out examinations.
The doctor checks the child’s medical history and, during a physical examination, determines whether there is stool in the intestine; this may indicate an intestinal obstruction.
If there is a suspicion of intestinal obstruction, the necessary examinations are carried out at the pediatrician or hospital.
Natural remedies and home remedies for constipation for adults
Adults should drink plenty of fluids and exercise regularly (daily or at least three times a week) to promote intestinal activity.
Recommended foods for constipation:
Over-the-counter laxatives for stubborn constipation
If the other measures do not work, laxatives should be used.
There are different mechanisms of action:
- Intestinal stimulants – cause rhythmic contractions of the intestinal muscles, e.g. Dulcolax.
- Lubricants – facilitating fecal lubrication, such as mineral oil.
- Stool softening agents to increase the water content and thus soften the stool, such as docusate sodium.
- Fillers and swelling agents – these are possibly the safest laxatives, e.g. FiberCon. It is important to drink plenty of water.
- Osmotic agents – favor fluid movement in the large intestine, for example, sorbitol.
- Salinic laxatives – increasing water output into the intestine, e.g. magnesium hydroxite.
Lactic ferments and probiotics can be used to regulate bacterial intestinal flora and promote digestion, especially after taking antibiotics. Especially recommended are products containing both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Pregnancy and lactation
Pregnant women should eat a higher fiber diet and drink more.
If the home remedies do not work, a laxative may be prescribed to cause regular bowel movements.
There are various safe laxatives for pregnant women that are not absorbed by the digestive system and thus do not interfere with pregnancy.
Laxatives that can be taken in pregnancy are the osmotic agents: lactulose, magnesium hydroxite, sorbitol.
Natural remedies for constipation for newborns and children
Often, a simple change in diet and lifestyle change is enough to solve constipation in children:
High-fiber diet A high-fiber diet
can help the child’s body form a softer stool consistency. The recommended ratio is 14 g of fiber per 1000 calories.
For babies, this means a daily requirement of about 20 g. For adolescent girls and young women, the daily ration is 30 g, for boys about 40 g. Fiber-rich foods are beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
A spoonful of olive oil is one of the most effective home remedies for constipation.
Which foods should be avoided?
Foods that promote constipation include milk, dairy products, meat, rusks and desserts.
Adequate fluid intake
Water and other liquids make the child’s stool softer. The child should not drink too much milk, because it favors constipation.
One should encourage the child to spend 5-10 minutes in the toilet after each meal. This habit should also be maintained during summer vacation.
Rewarding the good will of the child, not the result
Going to the toilet can be rewarded with small gifts, such as a sticker, a special book or game.
Do not punish the child if he stains his underwear.
Children who do not yet eat solid food (infant)
If the baby suffers from constipation, but has not yet begun to eat solid food, he should drink plenty of water in addition to the normal amount of breast milk.
If artificial milk is fed, it must be prepared according to the manufacturer’s instructions and must not be diluted.
To stimulate the abdominal organs, alternately bend the child’s legs so that the knees touch the chest (bicycle exercise) and massage the tummy.
Children who eat solid foods (after weaning)
If the child is 1-2 years old (or has been weaned before), he should drink plenty of water or diluted fruit juice.
Feed plenty of fruit, even in pureed or grated form – depending on how well the child can already chew; recommended fruits include:
- Bunches of grapes
The child should never be forced to eat. If there are real fights while eating, the child will perceive eating as a negative and stressful experience.
A balanced diet is important for the child, including fruit, fresh vegetables and whole grain products such as pasta and bread.
If the child still suffers from constipation even after the change in diet, the doctor may prescribe a laxative. Fillers are not suitable for children, here an osmotic agent is recommended. If this does not achieve the desired effect, the doctor may prescribe an intestinal stimulant.
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