Constipation: Causes, symptoms and remedies
From time to time, everyone would have experienced constipation. It’s often embarrassing to talk about this. Constipation is essentially a condition when bowel movements become hard or take place less often thereby making it difficult to pass stools normally. Basically there is no set amount of times a day or week that a person should have a bowel movement. For some people it’s normal to have a bowel movement three times a day; for others, only once or twice a week is perfectly fine. In general a person shouldn’t go longer than three days without having a bowel movement or passing stools. If it takes longer than that, the stool hardens and is more difficult to expel. Constipation symptoms will vary from one person to another, but no one should go for 7 days without the urge to visit the toilet for a long call.
Some of the causes of constipation are as follows:
- Not drinking enough water
- Not eating enough fiber
- Change in usual diet or routine, perhaps caused by traveling
- Lack of physical activity, exercise or immobility
- Eating disorders
- Too much dairy product in your diet
- Mental stress
- Postponing the urge to visit the toilet
- Colon cancer
- Too much use of stool softeners
Constipation symptoms are usually identified by: Few and irregular bowel movements, difficulty having bowel movements, straining during bowel movement, incomplete and hard stools passing out, abdominal pain or pain in the anal area and vomiting.
When to seek medical attention
Constipation is a condition that under normal circumstances is nothing at all to worry about. Most of the time, it can resolve on its own even without warranting a visit to the doctor. Some simple home remedies listed later in this post, can also help relieve constipation problems. However if you notice any of the problems listed below that comes along with your constipation issue, then you must seek medical attention immediately.
- If you have constipation and pain in the stomach accompanied by a fever.
- Lost appetite and vomiting
- Some blood in the stool could be a sign of a deeper problem like hemorrhoid and fissure or cancer. If the stool is pencil thin it shows you may have some cancerous growth and requires quick medical attention.
- If constipation is caused by a medication prescribed by your doctor, It is important to have the drugs changed as they may cause more complications in your digestive system.
- If the constipation has gone on for more than a week.
- If the person is a senior or disabled he or she may be suffering from an impacted stool if the constipation goes on for more than a week.
- Weight loss even when on your regular diet
- Painful bowel movements.
Treatment for constipation
Normally in most instances of constipation, radical treatment is not required. Your doctor will likely prescribe certain dietary changes, such as adding more fiber or bulk in your diet, and also more exercise if you don’t have a particularly active lifestyle.
Before seeing the doctor, you may also want to try some simple, but effective home remedies for constipation. These have been time tested and proven to work. You may want to give it a try and see if It works for you.
Fish oil contains EPA/DHA which is an essential fatty acid forming part of the Omega 3 fatty acids. It is believed that omega-3 fatty acids have a beneficial effect in helping with many of our bodily functions including digestion and excretion. There have been studies done which have indicated that omega-3s can aid in managing the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and even constipation. Fish oil can be obtained from diet or in supplement form. Both these forms contain EPA/DHA fatty acids that are considered helpful for relieving constipation.
Castor oil is given as a time tested remedy for constipation because it has a laxative effect. It is a yellow liquid with a horrible taste. One of the good things about this remedy is that it works fast, providing of course, that you can gulp it down. Check with your doctor on the dosage, but usually a tablespoon should do the trick. Castor oil is only a temporary remedy and should never be taken on an ongoing basis for relieving constipation as it has other consequences.
Increasing the intake of fiber content in food is one of the most common home remedies for constipation. It is easily found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits like Banana, prunes, kiwi fruit and pear are quite effective to help relieve constipation. You can also use multi health fiber supplements available in your local pharmacy store.
Herbal therapy for constipation goes back to the ancients and has been proven to work. The herbs are usually divided into two categories: bulk-forming laxatives and stimulant laxatives. Bulk-forming laxatives consist of — flaxseed, barley, and fenugreek. Just keep in mind if you choose flaxseed as a cure for constipation, that flaxseed oil is not the same as flaxseeds and will not work as a constipation remedy. Stimulant laxatives must be used with care, as they work through contact with the intestinal fluids and therefore their prolonged use should be avoided as they alter the water/electrolyte secretion.. Have you been affected by constipation at any time? Have you tried any home remedy? Which home remedy has effectively worked for you? Do share your thoughts.