Constipation is a medical condition in which you experience problems with your bowel movement. You are likely to experience bowel pain, dry and hard stool that is small, which is also difficult to expel from the body. You strain a lot in an effort to expel the stool. Anyone can be constipated, including babies. Constipated babies will throw up their legs with sharp cries. They are also likely to have hard stomach to touch. Constipation in itself is not a disease but rather a symptom of bowel problems or other disease or medical condition. Ideally, you should have at least three bowel movements in a week. Although most constipations are minor and can be addressed with milk of magnesium, other constipations can be serious and can easily lead to other medical complications, especially if you do not address the root cause.
Before you can embark on looking at cause of constipation, it is only important to know how constipation occurs. As you eat and swallow food, it moves down along your digestive system and eventually to your colon (large intestine), which absorbs water, leaving the rest as waste to be expelled from your body. Through muscle contraction, the waste is pushed down into the rectum. It occurs that the colon can absorb all water, leaving the waste very dry, leading to constipation. Subsequent build up of dry waste leads to bloated stomach and constipation pain.
Causes of Constipation:
- Lack of dietary fiber – Fiber plays a very important role in your body and by eating a diet lacking in fiber, you put yourself in a good position to be constipated. Your body can obtain both soluble and insoluble fiber if you eat varied fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which are high fiber foods. The softness and gelyness of fiber keeps the waste moist and free to move through the colon down to the rectum and easy disposal.
- Inadequate intake of water – While drinking water or fruit juices can reduce relieve abdominal pain, it is only good that you drink a lot of water, especially after meals to prevent constipations. Do not substitute water with other drinks such as cola drinks, coffee and alcohol. These cause dehydration in your body and can cause constipation.
- Lack of exercise – Bowel obstruction is very common in the elderly, a fact that is attributed to lack of physical activity.
- Medications – Some regular medications have constipation as one of their side effects. Such include antacids, high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, iron supplements, diuretics and anticonvulsant medications.
- Pregnancy – Constipation in pregnancy is very common. Constipated and pregnant women have their uterus compress the colon, leading to temporary constipation. Hormonal changes can also be a cause.
- Over use of laxatives – Resorting to using laxatives most of the time to eliminate constipation can be counter productive. Since your system comes to rely on laxatives as an aid removing waste, failure to use the same results in constipation.
- Delayed bowels – Delayed bowels is one major cause of constipation. Delaying the urge to relieve waste results in build up of waste, this eventually leads to intestinal blockage. This is usually accompanied by flatulence.
- Disease – Certain body health conditions and disorders cause constipations. These include metabolic and endocrine disorders, neurological disorders and systemic disorders.
Doctors use varied methods and techniques in diagnosing constipation. Apart from physical examination of the rectum, anorectal tests are also carried out. Barium enema X-ray and colonscopy are also methods used. Although constipation cures such as use of laxative, lubricants and stool softeners are available, remedies for constipation offer long-term treatment, depending on the cause. They include fiber-rich diet that excludes constipating foods, life style changes, use of colon cleanser products and adequate intake of water.
If left untreated, constipation can cause serious health problems, especially if the cause is disease-related. It can easily lead to Irritable bowel movement, gallbladder infections, gastritis and colon cancer or bowel cancer. Symptoms of ibs include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and gastroesophageal reflux. In case the cause for your constipation is disease-related, you are likely to deal with symptoms of colon cancer and irritable bowel or stomach cancer. Because of the seriousness of untreated constipations, it is only good that you ascertain the cause in case you experience any.