Constipation

Symptoms

Constipation is a condition where there is an increased difficulty and complication in passing stool (bowel motion). Symptoms include:

  • Unusually fewer bowel movements and trouble having bowel movement.
  • Harder, smaller stools.
  • A feeling like there is still more stool that didn’t get out.
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Throwing up (vomiting).

Risk factors and causes

Including:

  • Low water/fluids intake, low fiber intake.
  • Little physical activity.
  • Pills that contain aluminum and/or calcium.
  • Colon cancer.
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, etc.)
  • Increased and continual use of laxatives (this can make the bowel muscles weaker with time).
  • Any factors that can cause dehydration in the body.

Treatments

  • Change in diet and habits. Increase fiber intake, as this makes the stool heavier, helping it to pass through the intestines with greater speed and ease. Also, muscular activity in your intestines can be increased by exercise and physical activity.
  • Laxatives (over-the-counter medications). These include:
    • fiber supplements. These pills make your stool bulkier.
    • As their names suggest, their main function is to stimulate bowel motion.
    • They aid in the movement of fluids through the intestine and colon.
    • When you take lubricants, they cause the colon to conduct stool a lot easier.
    • stool softeners. There is water in the intestines. This water can be drawn by stool softeners and moisten the otherwise hard stool.
  • Doctor-prescribed medications.
  • Your pelvic muscles can be trained with the help of a professional. This technique can help you relax your pelvic muscles, thereby causing stool to be passed a lot easier.
  • The basic surgical procedure is for a small section of the colon to be removed. If you have adjusted your diet, increased physical activity, used laxatives, or used a medication prescribed by your doctor without any positive results, then surgery can be a last resort.

Self care

  • Increase your water and fluid consumption. Dehydration is a major cause of constipation. Drinking more water and other liquid beverages will greatly reduce the chances of constipation in the average person.
  • Eat cereals with wholegrain. Eat fruits and vegetables, including the seeds and skins where possible. Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, which is a huge ingredient in the prevention and management of constipation.
  • Avoid eating too much meat and overly-processed food. These reduce fiber and congest the digestive tract, increasing the chances of irregular bowel motions.
  • Increase your physical activity. Simple exercises like jogging, swimming, and dancing will go a long way.
  • Use the toilet when you feel like going, don’t delay.
  • Do not force yourself to go. Piles (haemorrhoids) can be brought about by forcing the stool.
  • Do not use laxatives all the time as they can make the bowel muscles weaker.

Drugs used in treating

  • Over-the-counter laxatives. Including:
    • bulk-forming laxatives e.g. psyllium, methyl-cellulose, and polycarbophil.
    • lubricant laxatives e.g. docusate
    • osmotic laxatives e.g. milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide solution) and polyethylene glycol.
    • stimulant laxatives e.g. sennosides and bisacodyl.
  • Doctor-prescribed medications. The two major prescription drugs for treating constipation are linaclotide and lubiprostone.

Other conditions related to constipation include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome. In connection with constipation, this can also cause diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and bloating.
  • Haemorrhoids (piles). These are veins swollen in the anus that usually become so by continual use of force to pass stool.
  • Stools with traces of slime or blood.