|Constipation does not have one simple answer as it's
different for different people. Some people have infrequent stools, but for
others, constipation means hard stools, difficulty passing stools
(straining), or the sensation of not completely emptying after a bowel
movement. The causes are likely to be very different, and the solution to
each should be tailored to the individual.
Sometimes, constipation alternates with bouts of diarrhea and most often this occurs as part of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). At the extreme end of this unhappy spectrum is fecal impaction, in which stool hardens in the rectum or colon and prevents the passage of any stool.
Clinically speaking, constipation is usually defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week. Severe constipation is defined as less than one bowel movement per week. There is no medical reason to have a bowel movement every day and going without a bowel movement for two or three days usually does not cause physical discomfort, only mental distress for some people.
Distinguishing between acute (a recent problem) and a chronic problem (long duration) is important. There are people who are more prone to constipation than others and struggle with the problem throughout their lives. For these people, a regimen of enemas would bring reliable relief of the problem. Acute constipation requires urgent assessment because a serious medical illness may be the underlying cause (for example, tumors of the colon). Constipation also requires an immediate assessment if it is accompanied by worrisome symptoms such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea and vomiting, or weight loss. In contrast, the evaluation of chronic constipation may not be urgent, particularly if simple measures bring relief.
There are several things you can do to help deal with constipation.
| Bowel movements are under voluntary control. This
means that the normal urge people feel when they need to have a bowel
movement can be suppressed. Sometimes for one reason or another, suppression
is necessary, doing this too frequently can lead to a disappearance of urges
and result in constipation. In children, this is very common.
They get busy doing 'children' things and haven't the patience to 'sit' or
hardened stool may be painful causing them to suppress normal function.
Fiber is important in maintaining a soft, bulky stool. Diets that are low in fiber can, therefore, cause constipation. The best natural sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
One suspected cause of severe constipation is the over-use of stimulant laxatives and castor oil. An association has been shown between the chronic use of stimulant laxatives and damage to the nerves and muscles of the colon, and it is believed by some that the damage may be responsible for the constipation. It is not clear, however, whether the laxatives have caused the damage or whether the damage existed prior to the use of laxatives and, indeed, has caused the laxatives to be used. Nevertheless, because of the possibility that stimulant laxatives can damage the colon, most experts recommend that stimulant laxatives be used as a last resort after non-stimulant treatments have failed.
Hormones can affect bowel movements. For example:
Too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) and too much parathyroid hormone (by raising the calcium levels in the blood) can cause constipation.
At the time of a woman's menstrual periods, estrogen and progesterone levels are high and may cause constipation. However, this is rarely a prolonged problem.
High levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy also can cause constipation.
Diseases that affect the colon
There are many diseases that can affect the function of the muscles and/or nerves of the colon. These include diabetes, scleroderma, intestinal pseudo-obstruction, Hirschsprung's disease, and Chagas disease. Cancer or narrowing (stricture) of the colon that blocks the colon likewise can cause a decrease in the flow of stool.
Central nervous system diseases
Some diseases of the brain and spinal cord may cause constipation, including Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries.
Colonic inertia is a condition in which the nerves and/or muscles of the colon do not work normally. As a result, the contents of the colon are not propelled through the colon normally. The cause of colonic inertia is unclear. In some cases, the muscles or nerves of the colon are diseased. Colonic inertia also may be the result of the chronic use of stimulant laxatives as described above. In most cases, however, there is no clear cause for the constipation.
Pelvic floor dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction (also known as outlet obstruction or outlet delay) refers to a condition in which the muscles of the lower pelvis that surround the rectum (the pelvic floor muscles) do not work normally. These muscles are critical for defecation (bowel movement). It is not known why these muscles fail to work properly in some people, but they can make the passage of stools difficult even when everything else is normal.
A frequently over-looked cause of constipation is medications. The most
common offending medications include:
What is interesting is the broad variety of
symptoms that can be caused by constipation, and relieved by an enema.
Constipation is a very common and frustrating problem for anyone. Constipation is usually defined as the passage of hard and painful stools or going then after a few days without a bowel movement. Constipation is often caused by a diet that is low in fiber and not enough non-carbonated liquids, but can also be caused by drinking too many carbonated beverages and milk products (more than 32oz/a day), or waiting too long to try and produce a bowel movement.
Once a child develops constipation and has hard and
painful stools, they will then begin to hold in their bowel movements to prevent it from
causing pain. This creates a cycle that makes the constipation continue and become worse.
|Many people try to force hard dry feces out when they are
constipated. About the only thing you accomplish from this is a good start on hemorrhoids.
However, by using a small
volume enema and retaining this for a while. You can soften this feces and have
a comfortable bowel movement. Usually retention is anywhere between 30 minutes to an
hour to accomplish this.
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This information is strictly educational and is not, in any way, meant to prescribe or to constitute medical advice. The information provided is designed to be used in conjunction with the guidance of a healthcare professional. The author assumes no responsibility for any presumed health effects associated with using this information.