Constipation is the passing of dry, hard faeces fewer than three times a week. Individuals who have constipation may find it painful and difficult to have a bowel movement, also other symptoms include feeling sluggishness, bloated and uncomfortable. Constipation is a common ailment and everybody will suffer from it at least once within their life. It is more common in women over the age of sixty five and pregnant women; it is common after childbirth and surgery.
Constipation occurs when too much water is absorbed in the colon or when the colon is sluggish and slow again causing too much water to be absorbed. Common causes of constipation are too little fibre in the diet, not consuming enough water, lack of exercise, medications, irritable bowel syndrome, changes in routine or life such as pregnancy, old age and travel, laxative abuse, ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, specific diseases such a stroke, problems with the rectum and colon and problems with intestinal functions.
The most common cause of constipation is a diet high in eggs, cheese, meat, refined processed foods and low in fibre which is found in fruits, vegetables and wholegrain. The soft texture and bulk of fibre helps to form stools that are easier to pass then dry, hard ones.
Water and juice add fluid to the colon which makes bowel movement easier, caffeine containing beverages such as tea; coffee and cola drinks and alcohol have a dehydrating effect which makes constipation worst. Individuals who have constipation should drink plenty of water and juices. Studies have shown that the lack of exercise makes constipation worst and anybody who has constipation is recommended to take regular exercise.
Medication such as anticonvulsants, pain medications, diuretics, antacids, iron supplements, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, antiparkinson medication and antispasmodics can all cause constipation.
Individuals who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome have problems with their bowel movements; one of these symptoms is constipation.
Changes in life can cause constipation, pregnant women get constipated because of hormonal changes and the elderly get constipated because the metabolism get slower in old age and muscle tone becomes depleted.
Abuse of laxatives can cause constipation, the colon nerve endings get damaged and cause problems with the colon's natural ability to contract. The colon then begins to rely on laxatives to have a proper bowel movement. Ultimately, laxatives are also extremely dehydrating.
Individuals, who ignore the urge to have a bowel movement for one reason or another, can in fact cause constipation by training their body to stop feeling the urge to go.
There are specific diseases that can cause constipation such as neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders and systemic disorders. These disorders affect the organs system which can slow down the passage of stools through the colon. Scar tissue, tumours, intestinal obstructions, diverticulosis, colorectal stricture and cancer can all cause constipation by compressing, narrowing and squeezing the rectum.
Functional constipation occurs because of problems with the structure of the colon, children and adults both can get it but it is more common in women.
Constipation can cause problems for the body. An individual with constipation will no doubt strain to pass the hard stools when having a bowel movement, this straining can cause haemorriods and anal fissues. Straining can also cause a condition known as rectal prolapse, this is when a small amount of the intestinal lining is push out of the anal opening. Constipation may also cause a condition known as fecael impaction, this is when the hard stool is so impacted in the colon that normal pushing can not expel it and an enema is used to break up the stool and remove it.
When the bowel is clogged with faeces due to constipation, it provides an ideal environment for harmful bacteria and parasites to thrive. Poor bowel cleanness is the source for many disorders for the body, such as gall-bladder problems, varicose veins, heart disorders, arthritis, hiatus hernia, appendicitis, cancer of the colon, clotting in deep veins and diverticulitis. Intestinal toxaemia and autointoxication are cause directly from intestinal constipation. Constipation aids in the lowering of the body's resistance, thus leading to many acute and chronic illnesses.
Intestinal constipation causes extra workload for the other excretory organs such as the lymph, skin, liver, kidneys and lungs by causing cellular constipation. This causes the functioning of these organs to become overworked and depleted. Repair and growth are delayed, the ability to eliminate waste products is limited and cellular metabolism becomes sluggish. The cells become dead and inactive, instead of active and alive, this process helps in the decline of organ and tissue functioning ability.
Constipation causes autointoxication, this is a process where the body literally toxicants itself by keeping decaying matter within the colon. The toxin that are released within the bowel, find their way into the bloodstream and from there around the body. This slowly affects every cell in the body and causes illnesses.
Points to remember about constipation are that it effect everybody one time or an other, the most common cause of constipation is poor diet and lack of exercise, other causes are specific diseases, abuse of laxatives, medication and IBS. To prevent constipation or relieve symptoms eat a well balance high fibre diet, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly and do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.
In conclusion, we will all suffer from a short bout of constipation form time to time in our life and by changing our diet and lifestyle these symptoms can be elevated. The problems come with long term constipation and the negative affects it has on the body and it's ability to produce more problems with major illnesses. To improve the symptoms and therefore the general health of any individuals who has long term constipation, it would be wise to follow the dietary, lifestyle and natural treatments highlighted in this article. A clean bowel leads to a healthy body and when treating any patient with serious ailments, it would always be wise to question them about their bowel movements.
Stewart Hare C.H.Ed Dip NutTh
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