Constipation Symptoms and Treatment

Constipation may be one of the most uncomfortable gastrointestinal problems a person can have. Technically, one suffers from constipation if he or she has bowel movement fewer than thrice a week. With constipation, stools are often difficult to eliminate and may be painful for people to pass. Constipated people also often feel bloated, strained and have a sensation of always having a full bowel. Constipation treatment, however, may be as simple as changing your diet or lifestyle.

Constipation is usually brought about when the colon absorbs too much water, which causes the stool to be dry and hard; or when muscles in the colon contracts slowly, which causes stool to pass through it too slowly. If the problem is not within the colon, it may be because of anismus, a pelvic floor dysfunction that causes muscles to be unco-ordinated. Anismus, however, can cause the sufferer to strain from even with the softest bowel movements.

Symptoms of constipation can include:

  • a sensation that the bowels haven’t completely emptied
  • bloating of the abdomen, and possibly a “rumbling” noise
  • gas
  • indigestion
  • infrequent bowel movements
  • hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass
  • loss of appetite
  • pain or pressure in the belly
  • some bleeding as a result of straining

Such treatment begins with simple changes in a person’s diet or lifestyle. These help alleviate the symptoms and manage the problem. A high-fiber diet is often suggested to people who suffer from constipation, making sure that they get at least 25 to 30 grams daily. Fiber helps your body form bulky and soft stool. As such, people are often told to stock up on beans, grains and fresh fruits while avoiding meat, cheese and other processed foods.

Another easy to do treatment is to have regular exercise. This will encourage your body’s intestinal activity.

If you think you are suffering from constipation, make sure that you drink plenty of water. This will help soften your stool.

Among normal people, bowel movements often come at a regular time in regular intervals. To avoid constipation, people must not ignore the “call of nature” and forego on the urges to pass the stool. Also, set aside enough time to go to the bathroom and have a bowel movement.

If these are not enough, a stronger treatment might be necessary. A common treatment for such constipation is the use of laxatives. There are laxatives that help your intestines have rhythmic contractions, and there are those that lubricate your stool so that it moves easily through your colon. Other laxatives soften the stool, help fluids move more quickly through the colon, or draws water into the colon to help pass the stool. Note, however, that laxatives are often considered as a last resort because it can be addictive. Fiber supplements, which helps you get more fiber, are also called bulk laxatives. Fiber supplements are the safest laxatives available.

Prescription drugs are also available for a more serious treatment. Lubiprostone is said to be effective in increasing the fluid content of stool, while there are also agents that increases fluid secretion in the intestines while decreasing the transit time of stools in the colon.

However, such treatments will not be successful if an underlying condition persists. If you have anismus or irritable bowel syndrome, for example, you will continue to have constipation if you do not address the underlying disease.

A more drastic treatment might be needed if one does not respond to lifestyle or diet changes and medicines fail to alleviate the problem. One of these measures is a surgical removal of some parts of the colon.


Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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