Category : General
Regular bowel movements are important for everyone’s health, and if something occurs to cause a disruption in those bowel movements, then it is important to get things moving again in the digestive tract. If not, this problem of an inability of a person to have a bowel movement is called constipation, and in order to keep good health it must be treated and resolved.
What is constipation?
Constipation is described as having less than three bowel movements a week, and is considered to be more severe if there is less than one bowel movement a week. It also involves extremely hard and dry stools that a person has trouble passing when they go to the bathroom. It can cause straining and pain, as well as feeling like there is still something left and that the bowel movement is incomplete. In fact, there are actually several versions of constipation, some mild and some severe.
Some kinds of constipation can happen for a short period of time, while some diseases can cause chronic constipation to occur. The main kinds of constipation is acute, psychosomatic, hypotonic, rectal and functional. Some of these require a doctor’s attention to treat, while others may respond to natural constipation remedies. Whatever the type of cause of the constipation, this problem is not uncommon, especially with older adults or pregnant women.
What causes constipation?
Causes of constipation vary from stress to poor nutrition to some kinds of illnesses. Some prescription medications too can cause side effects of constipation, such as blood pressure calcium channel blockers, narcotics, pain medication, iron, antidepressants, decongestants, and anticonvulsants, as well as antacids with calcium or magnesium.
Types of constipation
- Acute constipation: Acute constipation as the name suggests comes on abruptly and may end up being severe enough to require immediate medical assistance to discover the cause. Psychosomatic constipation is usually caused by too much stress such as if someone is under pressure at work or they are travelling, etc. It usually goes away if the outside cause is taken away.
- Hypotonic constipation: If someone has a chronic version of constipation that is when hypotonic constipation can happen. This type of constipation is caused by a week abdominal muscle and the person is unable to defecate normally because the muscles are too weak to work properly in the intestines. It can be caused by many things such as being too sedentary, not enough fiber in the diet, and not enough water in the diet.
- Spastic constipation: The opposite of this is hypertonic, which is also called spastic constipation. This means the person experiences cramps and pain, but still can’t defecate. The stool instead doesn’t move through the intestines properly. This can cause someone to develop irritable bowel syndrome, a condition of alternating diarrhea and constipation.
- Rectal constipation: Rectal constipation is caused by a person’s bathroom habits. It happens when someone repeatedly doesn’t go to the bathroom even when they feel the urge to defecate, which eventually causes the body to refuse to send the proper signal to the brain to produce a bowel movement. Then, the person will get dried up stool inside the intestines and become obstructed and unable to defecate.
- Functional constipation: Functional constipation means that a reason can’t be found as to why a seemingly healthy individual develops constipation and no cause can be found. There is also a similar type of constipation called idiopathic, which doesn’t respond to regular treatment. Idiopathic constipation seemingly has no cause as well and is sometimes hard to treat since the doctor doesn’t know what started it.
Many people believe in home remedies for constipation and will try some of them to cure their bowel movement issues, however, some of the reasons for constipation involve things such as not enough fiber to keep the stool soft, as well as overuse of laxatives, hormone imbalances (i.e. not enough thyroid, or too much estrogen or progesterone, which is why pregnant women get constipated), or various diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes, and others.
Medical Remedies for Constipation
If someone has constipation, a doctor may suggest certain kinds of medications. These include:
Laxatives – Some of the kinds of laxatives are fiber supplements (i.e. Metamucil or Citrucel), stimulants (i.e. Correctol, Dulcolax or Senokot), lubricants (i.e. mineral oil), stool softeners (i.e. Colace or Surfak), osmotics (i.e. Miralax, Sobitol or Cephulac), chloride channel activators (i.e. Amitiza) or 5-HT-4 agonists (i.e. Prucalopride).
If the constipation is caused by obstructions or stool that has become hard and impacted inside the intestines, then a person may have to undergo an enema and have the stool manually removed from the body. If there is some sort of blockage, such as a foreign object that didn’t make it through the digestive tract then a person could even have to have surgery to relieve any obstruction in the intestines.
A type of medical doctor that specializes in issues like constipation is called a Gastroenterologist. If you are having problems, your regular doctor can likely get you a consultation with this type of specialist.