Constipation is a condition when the person finds it difficult to expel the solid waste of the body. It refers to a difficulty and infrequent bowel movement.
People who are suffering this kind of symptom find it extremely hard to pass the dry, hard stool out of the body. Thus, defecation tends to be very painful and causes a lot of discomfort. Constipation may result from a variety of causes.
The following are the known causes of constipation.
1. Lack of fiber in the diet.
Most individuals are into eating meat, dairy products, eggs, and refined sugar that are high in fat but low in fiber. Fiber is one important factor of a balanced diet that helps prevent constipation.
A fiber-enriched diet can help speeds up the passage of stool throughout the rectum. There are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that slows down digestion.
It helps delay the emptying of the stomach and makes one feel full that eventually controls increase in weight. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is considered gut-healthy fiber due to its laxative effect.
It adds bulk to the diet thereby preventing constipation. This fiber does not dissolve in water, but it tends to pass through the gastrointestinal tract to speed up the passage of food and waste through the intestine. Insufficient fiber in the diet definitely causes constipation.
2. Lack of physical activity.
Exercise helps increase intestinal muscles contractions, thereby helping to expel solid wastes. It is also important in relieving stress, which is known to contribute to constipation.
Lack of physical activity is considered to be one of the reasons why constipation is common in older people. Elderly tend to move lesser and slower for they easily get tired moving. The less they regularly move, the more prone they become to having constipation.
There are a lot of medications that most individuals take that could cause constipation. Examples of medication are antacids that contain aluminum hydroxide, antispasmodic drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsant drugs, iron supplements, diuretics and painkillers.
These medications include constipation as its side effects. Most of the mentioned medications tend to make the body eliminate more fluids than usual. The more fluids expelled. The lesser fluid supplied to the intestine, which eventually cause dry, hard stools.
Dairy products, including milk can cause constipation. Milk contains less fiber, especially processed ones. Most of the commercial milk contains more fat and less fiber, which thereby causes constipation.
5. Irritable bowel syndrome
This is also considered as spastic colon and typically exhibits changes in bowel function. If a person experience irritable bowel syndrome, he may have abdominal cramps, abdominal pain, excessive gas, bloating, and constipation with alternating diarrhea.
6. Life changes and routine such as pregnancy, aging and travel. Changes in lifestyle may cause constipation.
One is pregnancy.
Constipation during pregnancy may be due to a lot of factors. The factors include mechanical pressure on the bowel due to the increasing size of the womb, hormonal changes, and changes in food and fluid intake. In some instances, pregnant women develop anal fissure, painful hemorrhoids and anal stenosis.
These conditions produce severe pain when defecating, which eventually triggers a reflex spasm along the muscles of the anal sphincter. This spasm may delay bowel movements and decrease the urge for intestinal opening just to avoid anal pain.
Second, the aging process.
Older adults are more likely to have constipation due to poor diet, insufficient fluid intake, lack of exercise, medications side effects, poor bowel habits, prolonged bed rest and habitual use of enemas and laxative.
When a person travel, the search for a comfortable restroom hinders one to act to the urge of having a bowel movement. In addition to that, the tendency of having a low fluid intake and eating mostly on fast food while on travel is more likely. This may result to insufficient hydration and not enough fiber in the diet and eventually develop constipation.
7. Abuse of laxatives.
Habitual use of laxatives leads a person to gradually produce dependency on these certain medications. In certain instances, an individual who is into use of laxatives may eventually require increasing amount of laxatives only to defecate.
There are instances as well that the bowel becomes insensitive to laxatives, which leads the person not to feel the urge to move the bowels, even with the use of laxatives.
8. Ignoring the urge to defecate.
Specific examples are avoiding the use of public restrooms and avoiding the urge due to being preoccupied. Ignoring the desire to defecate may initiate a cycle of constipation.
After some period of time, the individual may stop feeling the desire to move the bowels. This eventually leads to progressive constipation. It is best to answer the urge to defecate to prevent developing of more serious problems.
Liquids add fluid to the bulk of stool and to the colon, which makes bowel softer and defecation easier to be expelled out. When a person is dehydrated, the body tends to release more fluid than normal, which results to less fluid allocation in the intestines and in the formed stool.
When less fluid is amounted to the needs of the intestines, the possibility of having constipation is more likely.
10. Diseases and medical conditions, such as stroke.
Disease that involves neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders, and systemic conditions that can affect organ functions may likely cause constipation. Disease of the brain and spinal cord includes stroke, Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.
Metabolic and endocrine conditions include diabetes, hypercalcemia, hypothyroidism and uremia. Systemic disorders where constipation can most likely develop are lupus, scleroderma and amyloidosis.
11. Colon and rectal problems.
There are a number of diseases that can affect the function of the muscles and nerves of the colon. Such diseases inclined an individual affected to have a symptom of constipation.
These diseases include diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitic, Chagas disease, scleroderma and even cancer that have tumors that block the colon.
12. Problems with intestinal function.
This usually involves intestinal obstructions. Mechanical compression and interference with the normal bowel functions can occur if an intestinal obstruction is present.
Some known intestinal function problems are scarring of the intestine due to inflammatory bowel diseases, inflammatory adhesions, intestinal cancers, abdominal hernia, intestinal twisting, an existence of swallowed foreign bodies that are hardly expelled, intussusceptions, where one part of the intestine is drawn into the other part, and postoperative adhesions.
This is a long list of possibly scary causes of constipation, but with proper diet and hydration coupled with exercise, constipation can be managed well.