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Constipation - Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Constipation is an issue that affects a very large number of people, despite the fact that many people would rather not discuss it.

Constipation affects the majority of people at some point in their lives, and other people struggle with it intermittently throughout their whole lives.

Children and elderly people are particularly vulnerable to the distressing effects of constipation.

Changes to one's diet, along with the addition of some regular exercise, are able to help ease constipation in the vast majority of cases, provided that the condition is not brought on by medicine or a digestive disorder.

Even though constipation symptoms alone may not always be a clear sign that you need to see a doctor, you should go to the doctor if you have severe or new constipation, rectal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, or other urgent symptoms.

Constipation that lasts for a long time may also need a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan put together by a doctor.

Continue reading to learn more about the many causes of constipation, as well as how the condition is diagnosed and how it can be treated.

What Is Constipation?

When you have difficult or infrequent bowel movements, you are constipated.

Most people experience it at some point.

Even though it's generally nothing serious, once your body is back on track, you'll feel considerably better.

Individual differences in the average interval between bowel motions are significant.

Some individuals consume them three times a day.

Some people only get them a couple times per week.

However, going without one for more than three or more days at a time is typically too lengthy.

Your feces are tougher and trickier to pass after three days.

How Common Is Constipation?

If you experience constipation, you are not alone.

One of the most common gastrointestinal problems in the US is constipation.

Every year, at least 2.5 million people seek medical attention for constipation.

Constipation can occur occasionally in people of all ages.

Also, some people and situations are more likely to cause people to be constipated for a long time. These consist of:

  • Experiencing a variety of neurological (diseases of the brain and spinal cord) and digestive conditions.
  • Taking certain medications.
  • Consuming insufficient high-fiber meals. High-fiber foods help digestion by keeping food moving.
  • Being a woman, particularly during pregnancy and after giving birth. Women are more prone to constipation due to hormonal changes. The movement of stool is slowed down by the baby's wriggling of the intestines inside the womb.
  • Older adults have a tendency to be less active, have slower metabolisms, and have weaker muscle contractions along their digestive tracts.

How Does Constipation Happen?

Your colon absorbs an excessive amount of water from waste (stool/poop), which dries out the stool, making it dry, hard, and difficult to push out of the body. This condition is known as constipation.

To start from the beginning, the body absorbs nutrients from food as it regularly travels through the digestive tract.

After going through the small intestine, partially digested food that is now considered waste goes to the large intestine, also called the colon.

The colon consumes some of this waste's water, which results in the formation of a solid substance known as stool.

If you suffer from constipation, food could flow through the digestive tract at an abnormally slow rate.

This provides the colon with more time - an excessive amount of time - to take in water from the waste.

The feces dries out, becomes firm, and is difficult to expel as a result.

Causes Of Constipation

The primary function of your colon is to take up water that is left over from meals as it travels through the rest of your digestive system. After that, it produces feces (waste).

The muscles of the colon eventually push the waste through the rectum and out of the body.This process is called elimination.

Stools can become difficult to pass if they are allowed to sit in the colon for an excessive amount of time.

Constipation is typically the result of eating poorly.

Consuming adequate amounts of dietary fiber and water are both necessary for maintaining soft stools.

Plant-based foods are typically high in fiber content.

Both soluble and insoluble types of fiber are available.

When soluble fiber travels through the digestive system, it transforms into a substance that is similar to a soft gel and is able to dissolve in water.

A lot of the structure of insoluble fiber stays the same as it moves through the digestive system.

Both kinds of fiber combine with stool, which causes the stool to become heavier and larger while also making it easier to pass.

Because of this, moving through the rectum is made simpler.

Constipation can be caused by a number of things, such as stress, changes in habits, conditions that stop the colon's muscles from contracting, and conditions that make you feel less like going to the bathroom.

The following are some common causes of constipation:

  • Older age (constipation affects around one-third of people ages 60 and over)
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications, including certain antacids, pain medications, diuretics, and some treatments for Parkinson’s disease
  • Travel or other changes in the routine
  • Delaying the impulse to have a bowel movement
  • Low exercise levels
  • Dehydration
  • Low fiber diet, particularly diets high in meat, milk, or cheese

Symptoms Of Constipation

Symptoms of constipation include:

  • You feel that you haven’t completely emptied your bowels after a movement.
  • You feel bloated and nauseous.
  • You have a stomach ache or cramps.
  • Your stools are difficult or painful to pass.
  • Your stools are dry, hard and/or lumpy.
  • You have fewer than three bowel movements a week.

Diagnosis Of Constipation

If you are still having trouble going to the bathroom or if you are worried about the symptoms you are feeling, you may need to see a doctor.

  • It's possible that your blood will be tested in order to determine your blood count, electrolyte levels, and thyroid function.
  • It is possible to carry out a physical examination, which may include a rectal examination.
  • The doctor will inquire about your symptoms, your medical history, and any drugs you're currently taking in addition to any underlying illnesses you may have.

They may tell you to get more tests to figure out what is causing your symptoms.

The following are examples of possible examinations:

Marker Study

A marker study, also known as a colorectal transit study, is performed to examine how food travels through your colon.

You will take a tablet containing microscopic markers that will appear on an X-ray during this test.

Several X-rays of your abdomen will be taken over the next few days so the doctor can see how the food moves through your colon and how well your intestinal muscles are working.

During the test, you could also be instructed to consume a fiber-rich meal.

Anorectal Manometry

An anorectal manometry test is used to check how well the anal sphincter muscle works.

A medical practitioner will put a small tube with a balloon tip into your anus to do this test.

They will blow up the balloon and carefully pull it out after the tube is inside.

With this test, they can measure the strength of the muscles in your anal sphincter and see how well your muscles contract.

Barium Enema X-ray

A sort of test used to examine the colon is the barium enema X-ray.

You will drink a certain liquid the night before the test to clean your bowels. This will help you do better on the test.

The real test is inserting a greased tube with the barium dye into your rectum.

The rectum and colon are more visible because of the barium.

This enables the medical expert to see these spots on an X-ray more clearly.

Colonoscopy

Another test that medical practitioners perform to check the colon is a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy will be used to inspect your colon during this test by a medical specialist.

This tube has a light source and a camera on it.

Most likely, you won't remember the exam at all, and you shouldn't feel any pain because sedatives and painkillers are often given.

You will follow a liquid-only diet for one to three days prior to the test.

The night before the test, you might need to use an enema or laxative to empty out your bowels.

A woman seated on a toilet seat holding her stomach with a roll of toilet paper in one hand
A woman seated on a toilet seat holding her stomach with a roll of toilet paper in one hand

Treatment Of Constipation

Making adjustments to a person's diet and level of activity is typically where the treatment for constipation begins.

If necessary, it can then progress to laxatives and enemas.

Because constipation is frequently caused by a lack of fiber in the diet, increasing fiber intake can frequently resolve the problem.

Other forms of exercise or a daily walk could also be beneficial.

Bulk-forming laxatives may be the next option if your constipation is not responding to these easy home remedies, which can be used without a doctor's prescription.

In some cases, you can use stimulant laxatives or enemas for a short time, but you shouldn't use them for a long time because you might get used to them.

Biofeedback, relaxation techniques, and bowel retraining are examples of alternative treatments.

Even though there isn't as much research to back up these methods, they can be used at any time and with other treatments.

In the end, the cause of constipation will have a significant impact on the course of treatment.

Constipation brought on by a sickness or a gastrointestinal issue will not improve until the underlying cause is addressed.

People Also Ask

What Are The Three Types Of Constipation?

Theoretically, there are three main types of primary (idiopathic) constipation: normal-transit, slow-transit, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Normal-transit constipation is the most common kind of primary constipation.

Is Banana Good For Constipation?

It has been believed for a long time that eating foods high in fiber, such as bananas, can help prevent or treat constipation.

Because it is able to absorb water, soluble fiber helps keep stools bulky and soft.

It's possible that this will help your poop move through your digestive tract faster.

How Do You Massage Your Bowels For Constipation?

Put some serious pressure on your belly and move your palm in a circular motion across it, up toward your ribs, down to your left hip bone, and back across the bottom of your belly. It should be done ten times.

Beginning at your left ribs, begin making hard circular circles all the way around your body. Keep your hand in a fist the entire time.

What Are The Side Effects Of Constipation?

When you have constipation, you are more likely to have to exert a lot of force in order to get rid of it.

The veins in the area of your rectum and anus may bulge as a result of this.

Hemorrhoids, often known as piles, are bulging veins that can be painful.

They look similar to varicose veins and are located around your anus.

Conclusion

Constipation is a frequent condition that can be brought on by dietary practices, medical issues, and a wide variety of other aspects of one's lifestyle.

If you can, it's best to treat it at home by doing things like eating more fiber, drinking more water, and working out more often.

It is recommended that a person see a doctor if they have a lot of symptoms or pain, if they get constipated for no reason, or if their symptoms get worse.

About The Authors

Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah - Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.

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