Constipation is a very common gastrointestinal issue that affects a lot of people. While some people will only experience constipation infrequently, others may suffer from this condition chronically. One review study explains that chronic constipation is estimated to affect as much as 27% of the global population. Infrequent constipation may not cause significant problems in an affected person’s life, but when you suffer from chronic constipation, then many adverse complications can develop. You can be affected by physically and psychologically by chronic constipation. Your daily life may be affected, and your general health may also suffer greatly. A person is considered to be constipated when they fail to have at least three bowel movements during a single week.
Complications Of Chronic Constipation
Constipation that infrequently occurs due to a sudden change in diet, for example, usually does not pose a significant threat to your wellbeing. When constipation becomes a chronic problem, however, then complications may occur. It is essential to know about these complications, which can help you identify symptoms that they might be developing. Appropriate action will then need to be taken in order to target both chronic constipation and the developed complications in a treatment plan.
Hemorrhoids are relatively common amongst people who suffer from chronic constipation. This complication involves inflammation in the veins that are located in the affected person’s rectum, as well as the veins that surround their anus. Bleeding may occur, and pain is also a very common symptom. Other possible complications of chronic constipation may include a fecal impaction, rectal prolapse, and anal fissures.
Possible Causes And Risk Factors Of Constipation
Various factors can contribute to the development of constipation. Knowing the risks and causes can help a person avoid specific triggers and make adequate lifestyle changes to help them relieve their constipation and achieve normal bowel movements. One of the most common issues that contribute to constipation is the diet of an affected individual – not obtaining an adequate supply of fiber can cause a person to become constipated. One study provided evidence that a low-fiber diet can significantly alter several factors regarding bowel movements, often in an adverse way.
Other factors that can also contribute to constipation include a sedentary lifestyle, an inadequate intake of fluids, not going to the bathroom when you have an urge to go, and specific changes that may occur in your routine. Relying on the use of enemas and laxatives can also eventually cause you to become constipated.
Some types of pharmaceutical drugs can contribute to constipation, including:
- Antacid medication
- Iron supplements
- High blood pressure medication
- Heart disease medication
- Drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease
There are also certain health conditions that can cause constipation, such as:
- Tumors in the gastrointestinal tract
- Celiac disease
- Polyps in the colon
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Conventional Treatment Options For Constipation
There are different treatment options available to assist in relieving constipation. The treatment administered will usually depend on the cause of the affected individual’s constipation. In many cases, a bulking agent in the form of a fiber supplement will be provided to the patient. One review paper explains that psyllium, a type of fiber supplement, has shown promising results as it has been proven to increase the frequency of bowel movements in patients. The use of lactulose provided similar results, making this another potential fiber supplement for the use in constipated patients.
Other conventional treatment options may include:
- Laxatives, including stimulant laxatives and osmotic laxatives.
- Prokinetic agents.
- Lubiprostone supplements.
- Linaclotide supplements
How To Relieve Constipation
While many conventional treatment options for constipation are effective, many people would instead opt for alternative remedies to help relieve constipation. One of the most useful options is to increase your daily fiber intake. Soluble fiber sources are the best for relieving constipation as this will help stool move faster down your gastrointestinal tract. You should also take a look at how much water you consume each day, as improper hydration causes stool to become dry. This can make it much harder for the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract to move stool downward to the rectum.
While probiotic supplements are effective, it should be noted that it may be a good idea to rather opt for probiotic foods. A yogurt is an excellent option if you are looking for food that is both delicious and high in beneficial bacterium species. Some beneficial probiotic foods include:
- Camembert cheese extract
- Fermented milk
- Fermented soymilk
- Fermented soybean powder
- Red mold rice
- Rice vinegar
- Fermented ginseng
- Fermented garlic
- Fermented papaya
- Fermented tea
If you are not very physically active, then starting to participate in more exercise routines can also be very helpful. Exercise can help to address both constipation and some underlying causes that are known to lead to the development of constipation.
Another beneficial method that you can opt for if you want to find relief of constipation is to have a cup or two of coffee every day. While too much caffeine can be bad for you, there are many benefits that a limited daily intake of caffeine can bring. Caffeine is an all-natural stimulant that helps to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract’s muscles. In turn, this helps stool to move more easily down the tract toward the rectum; thus aiding in increasing the frequency of bowel movements and, in turn, offering a relieve of constipation. One study describes the efficiency of coffee on the stimulation of the gastrointestinal tract to be around 60% more potent than having a glass of water.
Diet, lifestyle factors, medication, illness, and many other factors can cause issues with the gastrointestinal tract and the digestive system of the human body. This can lead to the development of constipation, which is a condition that can have a detrimental impact on an affected person’s life. Not only does chronic constipation lead to physical symptoms, but its effect can also cause an adverse psychological impact. In this post, we provided an overview of the risk factors, complications, treatment options, and some useful tips to help you relieve constipation without pharmaceuticals.