What is Constipation?
As bowel movements vary from people having to use the loo three times a day to at least three times a week, no one can exactly pinpoint as to what exactly is the number for a healthy person to be using the loo.
Constipation, itself, is a symptom rather than a disease. It is a very common symptom and can affect up to one in five people. Around 2% of the world population suffers from either recurrent or constant constipation. Everyone has been affected by this at one point or other in their lives. Constipation is most common in the elderly due to changes in diet and medication as well as hormonal and body changes.
Constipation can be the result of a defected colon. If one’s colon absorbs more than the required amount of water or the muscles contract slower than usual, then the stool will travel at a slower speed. In other words, it will spend more than the required amount of time in the colon, which results in the hardening of the stool. Ultimately, this will result in a painful exit.
In a nutshell, constipation is basically a digestive disorder, where your bowel movements are infrequent, or you face difficulty in passing your stool. Typically, a constipated person’s bowel movement will be less than three times a week.
What causes constipation?
As there is no fixed number of times a person should pass the stool, it is quite difficult to get to the roots of constipation. However, the following can be a handful of reasons which can result in constipation:
- Not taking enough fluids
- Not exercising enough or too much exercising
- Change of diet
- Chronic pain
- Not getting enough fibers in your meals
- Glitches with digestive track’s nerves and muscles
- Ignoring the urge to use the loo
- Consuming an excess amount of dairy products
- Colon cancer
Constipation can be caused by psychological issues as well. If something went wrong during a child’s potty training time, it could affect the parent in several different ways. For this specific reason, doctors suggest new mothers to pay attention and special care to their toddlers1 during these important years. Constipation can occur when children hold the urge to go poo if they have new surroundings, for example, new home, relatives’ home, or school.
New moms also face constipation till about six weeks after giving birth. This process is completely normal. However, do consult your doctor in any case.
No matter which activity resulted in constipation, you can easily figure out if you have become a victim of constipation by looking at a few common constipation symptoms.
Signs and symptoms
Constipation symptoms are pretty straightforward, in the end, it all boils down to, more or less, an upset stomach. However, there are a few others as well:
- Loss of appetite: The patient’s appetite is not as it used to be. Keep a note of any minute change that may have arisen.
- Bloated stomach: Constipated people typically feel unusually full or heavy without eating anything, or sense a strange tightness in their abdomen
- Feeling sick or uneasy: Patients tend to feel unwell, and not their normal, energized self. They can also feel like they cannot completely empty their rectum.
- Feeling blocked: Constipated patient feel a sort of blockage in their rectum that is causing their stool to get stuck.
- Stomach ache/stomach cramps: The patient goes through unexplained and unusual cramps and aches in the general gut area.
- Unusual shapes and size: Patient’s stool has changed its shape, size, color, or consistency. It feels a bit lumpier or harder than usual because dehydration causes the body to absorb more than necessary water which leaves the stool high and dry. It causes the transition to be extremely painful as well.
- Feeling nauseous: The patient feels as if they are about to throw up, without having any reason to do so. It happens because constipation slows down the digestive process, which results in the delay of food getting into the intestines, consequently resulting in vomit.
- Straining during bowel movement: Due to the hard and odd structure of the stool, constipated patients have to push much harder than usual to release their stool. This amount of force exertion results in sore anal and abdominal muscles. At times, even after a lot of struggle, patients complain about the uneasy feeling that they have still not gotten rid of the entire stool.
It was believed, before allopathy debunked the theory, that the waste products left behind [trapped] in the body will eventually be absorbed. It has been discovered that trapped feces can be extremely dangerous to our digestive tract and overall health as well.
All said and done; generally, constipation is more of a nuisance rather than being a serious health condition.
However, chronic constipation can lead to some serious complications such as Hemorrhoids and Rectal prolapse, or it could be a way of your body alarming you of a much more serious disease; colon cancer.
Constipation relief and Treatment
The general go-to are lifestyle and diet changes which increase the speed of one’s feces. However, if those changes fail to do the trick, there are a few others that one can follow:
- Coconut oil
- Mint and ginger tea
- Belly massage; massage the area around your belly button counterclockwise
- Stay hydrated: drink approximately 12 quarts of water daily
- Warm liquids: especially in the mornings
- Avoid holding it in: It is healthy to give in to your body’s natural urges when it comes to passing stool
- Have a schedule where you can poop without any interference or rush: train your body to have scheduled poop, so you can pass the stool without worrying about the time crunch
Several doctors have recommended doing the “Asian Squat1” as it helps in the movement of feces within the colon.
If the above tips don”t work, then the doctor can suggest medications such as over the counter, oral laxatives, or surgery.
- Baby Center - Constipation in Babies
- 8 Asians - The Science and History of the Asian Squat