Constipation Treatment, Causes, Types, Symptoms, Medication And Facts
“Foods that heal” has become a popular catchphrase in recent times. What we eat has been shown in recent times to have a significant impact on our health. In order for food to be considered a medicine it would need to have an impact on conditions that are described as ill health or disease. It is true that constipation is one health issue that seems to be improved by the foods we eat.
But constipation is not a disease. We called it a health issue. More properly it can be described as a symptom. What is becoming increasingly evident is that this symptom can be eliminated naturally by selecting certain foods as part of our diets.
Facts and Myths about Food and Fiber and Constipation
Dietary fiber, in simple terms, refers to parts of food, typically plants and carbohydrates, that can be consumed but that cannot be digested. All plant foods contain some fiber. Fiber rich foods include fruits, grains, seeds, legumes, and many vegetables. Crustaceans such as lobsters and shrimp also contain a kind of fiber called chitin.
Fibers can be further distinguished by whether or not they are soluble in water. Fiber that is soluble can slow down digestion and that in turn can help the body utilize nutrients found in food. Insoluble fiber provides bulk. When this bulk makes its way through the digestive system and finds its way into your stool, it can help your stool pass more quickly through your digestive system.
Plants that are rich in soluble fiber include grains like oats, rice and barley. Beans, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, potatoes and peas are also good sources of soluble fiber. Plants that are rich in insoluble fiber include most whole grains, cereals seeds, wheat bran and the skin of the variety of fruits and vegetables.
One good way to get a handle on what can be done to remedy constipation, especially if it’s chronic is to take a look at some common misconceptions regarding constipation in general.
People should have a single bowel movement every day.
Not necessarily, less than 50% of people have a single bowel movement per day.
If the number of bowel movements per week totals fewer than five then I’m suffering from chronic constipation.
In actual fact the normal range of bowel movements per week ranges anywhere from three to 21.
I heard a guy on late-night television talking about how toxic chemicals can accumulate in my intestines if I don’t have enough bowel movements per week. He suggested that these toxic chemicals can cause generalized fatigue and diseases like cancer.
There is no concrete evidence that an accumulation of any chemical in the body is directly related to constipation of any kind.
Older people tend to have more bowel movements per day or per week.
Quite the opposite, as people age they tend to experience fewer bowel movements over any given period of time.
Constipation is one thing, but chronic constipation is really quite rare.
Chronic constipation affects more than 15% of people in the United States. It can be a debilitating condition and it costs millions of dollars in medical care and lost productivity.
Chronic constipation is pretty easy to fix; be sure to get enough fiber, drink a lot of water and get enough exercise and you’ll be fine.
Chronic constipation can be caused by a number of different factors. One commonly overlooked cause of chronic constipation is stress or depression. Medicine has come far enough to acknowledge that emotional issues can have a profound effect on health in any number of ways.
In addition, a number of medical problems can cause constipation. For example something called dyssynergic or outlet obstruction describes a condition where muscles located in the lower pelvis that surround the rectum don’t work in a normal fashion.
What works best for constipation?
When you’re constipated, there may be only one part of your body that you really want to move. However taking a hike may be just the thing to get all the parts of your body moving the way you want them to. Countless experts have touted the benefits of exercise for just about any human ailment imaginable. But when we discuss risk factors for something like constipation we often ignore the simpler solutions such as getting up and taking a walk.
Why Exercise Can Ease Constipation
The basic cause, if not the primary, cause, of constipation is that too much water is absorbed by the intestine as a stool moves through the intestine. A stool that is hard because it is dried out has a more difficult time moving through the intestine than a softer moister stool .most of us are aware that aerobic the exercises such as walking increase one’s heart rate and breathing. What you may not be aware of is that this activity stimulates contractions in the intestinal muscles. These contractions decrease the amount of time it takes food to make its way through the large intestine. The shorter the time that food has within the large intestine the less likely is that food to have most of its water absorbed by the intestine. The end result is a softer moister stool that is easier to pass.
Before you jump up right after a meal, please take heed to the following information. Waiting an hour or so, especially after a large meal, is a good idea before engaging in strenuous exercise of any kind. Digestion isn’t simply a matter of chemically breaking down the food that you have eaten. The body needs help in digesting food. Because digestion is a physical activity in and of itself after you eat the flow of blood increases to the intestine and stomach. Aerobic exercise, such as a brisk walk, causes blood to flow to the heart. Of course, this normally is a good thing, but with blood flowing to the heart instead of the digestive organs the process of digestion actually slows down.
The gastrointestinal tract experiences weaker contractions, produces fewer digestive enzymes, and food moves slowly through the intestine giving the intestine time to take water out of the food. Yes we’ve been here before, stools are dry and hard and you may be constipated. So give your gastrointestinal system a bit of a break and it will thank you later.
As you may have heard before, before you start any exercise program consult with your doctor. That being said the best exercise for easing constipation is starting a program of regular walking — or perhaps only 10 to 15 minutes at a time a few times a day to start with. If your exercise is restricted by medical advice merely getting up and moving around can also help ease the symptoms of constipation. It’s possible, we understand, that you already have an exercise program in place. In that case you can simply heed the advice about waiting a while after a meal before you exercise. You might want to try a few new varieties of exercise as well, such as yoga, stretching, swimming, jogging or dancing.
Using Laxatives to Remedy Constipation Safely
The laxatives designed to treat the symptoms are made up of chemicals that increase stool, motility, frequency and bulk. In the case of laxatives however, misuse and overuse can only serve to worsen the symptoms that laxatives are designed to remedy.
Alternatives to laxatives do exist, however. A diet that includes plenty of fiber, fruits and vegetables, and as well whole-grains and cereals can improve your symptoms. Drinking as much as 2 quarts of water a day or including an equivalent amount of the right sorts of drinks also helps. Regular exercise can improve health issues that relate to constipation.
Attempting to overcome any hesitancy to move your bowels when you feel as if you should is sound advice. One has to wonder why around 80% of doctor visits for constipation conclude with the patient leaving with a newly written prescription for laxatives. At the very least an understanding of how these medications effect their changes will provide the right perspective on using them safely.
What types of laxatives are there?
There are at least five different forms of laxatives in common use. These include capsules, liquids, suppositories, pills and enemas. Later in the article we will categorize laxatives according to how they work. It’s important to remember that, like medications in general, laxatives can benefit one and cause unpleasant side effects as well. Sometimes the relative simplicity of an enema or suppository can work faster and more safely than a medicine based on a complex chemical reaction. What follows is a quick rundown of the kind of medications classified as laxatives:
A lubricant laxative is designed to make your stools more slippery. It adds mineral oil as a slippery layer to the walls of the intestine. Doctors consider lubricant laxatives as a suitable remedy on a short-term basis for constipation. Long-term use can cause the intestine to absorb fat soluble vitamins and decrease the effectiveness of certain prescription drugs.
Stimulant laxatives work very fast and very efficiently. They stimulate the lining of the intestine and this in turn accelerates the speed of a stool’s journey through the gastrointestinal system. This type of laxative also hydrates the stool. Ex-Lax, Senokot and Correctol are examples. Regular use of this type of laxative can weaken the muscles used for defecation and make one dependent on laxatives to remedy constipation. Cramping and diarrhea are also common side effects. Prunes are also sometimes classified as chronic stimulant laxatives.
Osmotic and Hyperosmolar Laxatives
Osmostic laxatives also increased the moisture level in the stool by drawing fluids into the intestine from surrounding tissue. Hydrated stools are softer and easier to pass. If you use this sort of laxatives it’s very important to drink as much water as possible. If you don’t there is a real possibility you’ll experience gas and cramping.
Stool softeners (also. known as emollient laxatives ) use a chemical called ducastate to hydrate and soften the stool. The effect of this sort of laxative may take a week or a little bit longer to work. People with hemorrhoids or those who are recovering from surgery or childbirth frequently use this type of laxative.
Certain commercial laxative products contain dietary fiber in an easily consumable form.
Whatever laxative you may decide to use, be careful not to overuse it and try to stay in touch with your doctor regarding your use of laxatives.
Treating Constipation By Prescription
In many instances constipation can be treated without drugs using natural remedies. Ensuring that you get enough natural dietary fiber is often all that is required. Dietary fiber from grains, fruits and vegetables is an excellent addition to anyone’s diet. Supplementing additional fiber with extra amounts of water can also be an extremely successful approach.
Years ago over the counter laxatives were marketed using tag lines such as “we all need a little help now and again.” And perhaps that’s true Metamucil Citrucel and Milk of Magnesia will do what they advertise they can do in many instances. At times, however, constipation is not eased or relieved by any of the methods mentioned thus far. A visit to your family doctor to discuss prescription medication may be in order.
There are three families of drugs that are most often used to treat problem cases of constipation:
A prescription laxative called Lactulose that goes by the names Enulose, (lactulose), Cephula, Chronulac, Constulose and Duphalac works by drawing water into the bowel to soften and loosen stools. Its side effects include stomach cramps stomach upsets, diarrhea, gas and cramping.
A medication called Miralax or Glycolax (polyethylene glycol) uses osmosis to help stools retain water and stay soft. It is recommended for constipation sufferers who cannot tolerate the amount of fiber available in supplements.
Amitiza® (lubiprostone) is another medication designed to address the problems of constipation. The FDA has approved this medication specifically for treating chronic constipation resulting from causes unknown. That somewhat mysterious description applies to constipation where the cause cannot be ascribed to any particular medical condition and treatment. It is prescribed to be taken two times a day with meals. The side effects of Amitiza® can be somewhat pronounced and include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain and headaches.
In many cases diet and/or drugs may not be enough of a remedy for truly chronic constipation. More success may well be achieved by a combination of prescription medications such as laxatives, dietary changes and behavioral modifications. Ideally, working and planning along with a healthcare professional like your doctor can help you improve your overall health and health habits until your constipation becomes, at the very least, less chronic or is remedied completely.
The following are some strategies that may allow you to do what you need to do without the help of any kind of medication:
1. When you feel like you need to go, go. You may be ignoring something called peristalsis of the bowel. That term describes movements that serve to trigger a bowel movement. If you resist them or ignore them constipation may result.
2. Try to establish a routine for visits to the bathroom. Your best success is likely to occur in the morning when colonic activity is at its peak.
3. Institute a daily exercise routine. Along with many other parts of your body your gastrointestinal track will work better.
4. Although exercise can reduce stress to a certain extent, you may need to use relaxation techniques to remedy constipation. Meditation or guided imagery can work in many instances.
Whole grain breads and cereals and pasta are very effective in combating constipation. One can even notice cell walls that are part of many whole grains. These elements resist digestion and retain moisture within themselves. Bulk and moisture provide natural laxative like properties.
Fruits and legumes provide additional benefits. Fiber found in citrus fruits as well as beans and lentils actually stimulates the growth of colonic flora (the good bacteria that aid in digestion).
How much of these good things do we need?
Right now North Americans consume about 11 g of fiber per day. Women should try to consume at least 21 grams of fiber per day. Men should try to consume 30 to 38 grams of fiber on a daily basis. A marked increase in the amount of fiber that you do consume per day can give you an excess amount of intestinal cramping and gas. You can offset this reaction to a dramatic increase in fiber intake by increasing your fiber intake more gradually until you reach the amounts recommended above.
One more question, what is it about prunes?
Sorbitol is a natural laxative that is found in great abundance in prunes. These dried plums also contain healthy amounts of antioxidants as well as soluble and insoluble fiber. One might not be able to live on prunes, but they certainly can improve one’s health.
Constipation Defined and Described
Except perhaps in jest, people don’t talk about constipation and hemroids for the fun of it. Discussions of constipation are most likely of greatest interest to people who are suffering from this sometimes painful and always frustrating medical problem.
Although discussions of constipation may not be that plentiful almost everyone has experience with the problem at some time in their life. Chronic constipation is estimated to affect around 2% of the population of the United States. Constipation although annoying it’s not often considered to be a particularly serious medical problem.
Constipation is defined as something that isn’t happening or that is happening less frequently or with greater difficulty than what is considered to be normal. That something is a bowel movement. Frequency of bowel movements varies widely among the population. Some people move their bowels as many as three times a day. Other people move their bowels only about two or three times a week. If you go without a bowel movement for more than three days most people who are familiar with constipation will conclude that you are constipated. The stool becomes harder and more difficult to pass if it remains in the intestine or rectum for longer than three days.
If the pattern of your bowel movements partakes of the following symptoms for a period of around three months you’ll are considered to be constipated in a medical sense.
• Straining during a bowel movement more than 25% of the time
• You have two or fewer bowel movements in a week’s time
• The stools you produce are hard more than 25% of the time.
• You experience incomplete evacuation more than 25% of the time
One cause of constipation that can be overlooked in all this is dehydration. Here’s why. The food that you eat is initially processed in the small intestine. From there it makes its way to the large intestine, which consists of the colon and the rectum. A lack of water can impede the progress of your food through this tubular system. The lining of the large intestine is designed to soak up water from waste matter that passes through the intestine. If the waste matter doesn’t contain enough water, hard stools are formed that are difficult to pass through the rectum. If that sounds a lot like a description of constipation you are correct, it is. It also serves to suggest that more water can help to solve a constipation problem.
As described above your body needs more water, it doesn’t need to lose water by way of dehydration. An effective way to prevent excessive dehydration is to drink more water. It’s really that simple. It is especially important to drink more water during hot weather or after periods of strenuous exercise. It is also necessary to carefully monitor the amount of fluid that you’re body needs and the amount of fluid you are providing to it.
Simply drinking more water will not provide a complete cure for constipation. However, additional fluids in the digestive system will help to keep stools soft and facilitate digestive processes such as bowel movements.
How much water do I really need?
Rough estimates indicate that women typically consume about 90 ounces of water per day from a variety of sources and men take in about 125 ounces on a daily basis. If you are of an average size you may be able to use those numbers as some kind of bare minimum.
You don’t however get all your water by drinking it. Drinking about four extra glasses of water a day might be a good way to test how adding additional amounts of water to your daily intake effects the symptoms of constipation. There’s something to be said for the old saying “listen to your body”.
People who have been advised by their doctor to limit their consumption of fluids will have to discuss these recommendations with their doctor.
Most often constipation relates to the way the bowels function rather than the way they are structured. The most common causes of constipation include the following:
• Excessive consumption of dairy products
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Failure to drink enough water
• Failure to include enough fiber and one’s diet
• Stress or depression
• Excessive use of laxatives or stool softeners
• Disruptions of regular routine — often related to traveling
• Hemorrhoids or other conditions that cause avoidance of bowel movements
• The use of antacid medications
• Eating disorders
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Colorectal cancer
• Eating disorders such as bulimia
• Diseases of the nervous system such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
• The use of narcotics antidepressants and pain relievers
Conditions that interfere with the function of nerves and muscles in the bowel may also contribute to, or cause, constipation. Over time excessive use of laxatives or stool softener’s may actually weaken muscles used in bowel movements.
Is there a connection between Constipation and Acne?
Constipation occurs mainly in not having sufficient fiber in their diet. Secondarily, to those who lack physical activity, those drinking milk without drinking eight glasses of water every day, problems with the colons and rectum, and other activities that have something to do with the digestive system.
Constipation, on the other hand causes acne. Study shows that insulin resistance and cholesterol are two of the reasons in the development of that skin condition or spot. That is why it is advisable to have a high fiber diet in order to lower if not normalize high blood pressure and insulin levels. With high fiber intake, it lowers cholesterol. The skin will not have extra cholesterol to use to make androgen which triggers spot lesion. Insulin resistance triggers spot as well. To avoid acne, avoid constipation first. If you cannot have a high fiber diet, have an enough fiber diet instead. You can have 20-35 grams of fiber a day. You can actually seek the help of a dietician if necessary. To enumerate, fiber foods include wheat bread, fruits, cereals, and vegetables. Accompanied by this diet are the less intake of those low in fiber foods like canned goods, junk foods, etc.
Another solution in getting rid of constipation is a change in lifestyle which really works too. If you are used to drinking beverages every day instead of drinking water, you still have the time to make amends. Drink enough water so as not to become dehydrated especially when you are constipated. If you are used to not exercising, change it now. Try to do some exercise at least 15 minutes every day. You can do brisk walking or just running around your neighborhood. This change in lifestyle is not only to avoid constipation but also as your key in having a healthy life.
Better treat constipation because this might not only cause said skin condition or spot but it may lead to complications that include hemorrhoids which if chronic will need to undergo surgery. So each one of us should always put in mind that constipation chooses no one, it can be acquired by anyone. Again, bear in mind to have good and proper high fiber diet, exercise regularly and lots of liquid intake.
Is the title answered? Indeed. There is really a connection between constipation and acne — that if you are constipated more likely you are to acquire acne.
Constipation is one medical condition that responds well to self-care strategies and lifestyle changes. These include the following:
• A diet that includes plenty of fiber, fruits and vegetables, the games, as well as whole-grain baked goods and cereals can prove helpful
• Drinking as much as 2 quarts of water a day or including an equivalent amount of other fluids and drinks is also helpful. Avoiding caffeinated drinks and alcohol is advisable because they tend to ultimately lead to dehydration. You may need to cut back on dairy products as well
• Regular exercise can improve health including the health issues that relate to bowel movements
• Try to overcome any hesitancy to move your bowels when you feel as if you should
Quick Constipation Treatments
• Besides drinking a lot of water try drinking warm water, especially in the morning
• Prunes and bran do actually live up to their reputation as natural laxatives
• Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
• Occasional use of mild stool softener is in laxatives is acceptable
When Should You Call the Doctor?
• If you detect blood in your stool
• If you are constipated for longer than two weeks
• If you experience considerable pain when you move your bowels
• If you’ve never been constipated before and are constipated now
• If you’re losing weight without dieting