Constipation remedies may vary depending on the severity of constipation symptoms presented by the affected individual.
Moreover, constipation is described by every person differently depending on the pattern of defecation one has. Some may defecate once a day, while others may pass stool as many as two to three times a day. On the other hand, it is normal for other people to defecate at least two or three times a week. Therefore, it is not adequate to say that a person is exhibiting constipation symptoms because he defecates less than the number of times other people do.
Medical Perspective on Constipation
On medical viewpoint, constipation is defined as passing of stool or defecating less than three times a week. It is also accompanied by difficulty of defecating or a painful defecation due to hardened stool. Some individuals feel like they have not completely eliminated the entire stool, as if something is left inside their rectum. In other words, there is presence of physical discomfort aside from an infrequent passing of stool common in constipation.
There are several factors that may make an individual constipated and these are as follows:
1. Low fiber diet
Dietary fiber is an essential nutrient that promotes good bowel movement. It makes the stool soft and it allows bulk formation. Therefore, taking less fiber would result to hardened stool. A hardened stool would require a person to strain in order to eliminate the stool successfully.
Constipation can also be a side effect of some medications which are intended to treat or relieve symptoms of certain diseases. These medications include narcotic pain relievers like codeine; medication for depression like amitriptyline; anticonvulsive drugs like phenytoin; supplemental iron; calcium channel blockers like diltiazem and antacid medications that contains aluminum like Amphojel.
3. Poor bowel routine
As mentioned earlier, different people have various bowel habits. Some may defecate daily, while others defecate every other day or at least thrice a week. However, there are some people who have poor bowel routines. These people have the tendency to frequently hold back their urge to defecate for some reasons. Consequently, the system gets used to this suppression and the person might totally loss his urge to defecate, even if the bowel is already filled with wastes.
4. Misuse of laxative
Laxative medications are generally used to relieve constipation. However, abusing it may result to a rebound effect. Moreover, some laxative particularly those which are stimulant laxatives may damage the nerves and muscles in the colon if being misused. As a result, the bowel movement becomes slower which may lead to constipation. Furthermore, other individuals abuse the function of laxatives. These people become dependent on the effect of the said medication. Hence, without consuming laxative, they would manifest constipation symptoms.
5. Hormonal problems or imbalance
Another cause of constipation is the dysfunction of some glands like the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Imbalance in the parathyroid hormone specifically an increase on its level would also raise the amount of calcium within the blood, which may eventually cause constipation. While hypothyroidism, may decrease the activity of the intestine resulting also to constipation.
6. Intestinal disorders and other diseases
Intestinal disorders may also affect the function of the colon. Colon cancer or presence of mass in the colon may narrow the lumen of the intestine. As a result, the stool cannot pass through freely and might pile up in the narrowed portion of the colon. Definitely, the narrowed lumen of the bowel is causing the difficulty in passing the stool out from it. Other disorders of the intestine that may cause constipation are Hirschsprung’s disease and diverticulitis. In addition, some diseases that are related to the deterioration or dysfunction of the nerves may also affect the ability to defecate, especially, when the nerves affected are those that control bowel movement. Some of these diseases are multiple sclerosis and injury to the spinal cord that may lead to paralysis.
As discussed earlier, the description of constipation varies from person-to-person. However, constipation symptoms presented by different individuals may have similarities which may include the following:
- Defecating less than the usual frequency or less than thrice a week or no defecation at all
- Straining for long period before passing a hardened stool
- Finding it difficult to start and/or completely pass a stool
- Nausea and vomiting due to increased abdominal pressure, particularly for those whose intestine is obstructed
- Abdominal distention
- Headache resulting from the toxins circulating in the blood, coming from the wastes (feces) that were not eliminated from the body.
- Poor appetite due to the feeling of abdominal fullness.
- Unpleasant breath odor also known as halitosis
A person may experience some or all of these constipation symptoms. Most of them appear mild and seems manageable at home. However, one should determine how and when the symptoms started manifesting. Sudden onset might indicate a more serious medical problem. However, chronic constipation symptoms that are relieved through common home remedies don’t need that urgent medical attention. Nevertheless, it should not also be taken for granted.