Constipation can be one of the most uncomfortable conditions that you are ever likely to experience. It is medically considered as constipation if you have fewer than three bowel movements in a week. People who are constipated will find it difficult to eliminate the hard and dry stools that are common with this condition.
One of the popular misconceptions about constipation is that you have the condition if you do not have a bowel movement every day. This is not necessarily true and each individual is different in the way that their body functions.
Usually constipation is a symptom of another condition, and it is the source of this problem that should be addressed to eliminate the discomfort of constipation. When you understand what is causing the problem, you will be better equipped to prevent it from occurring.
Some of the causes of constipation are a lack of fiber in the diet, not enough exercise, medication, irritable bowel syndrome, dairy products, overuse of laxatives, dehydration, and medical diseases and conditions that have constipation as a symptom, such as stroke.
Fiber in your diet is one of the ways that you can combat constipation on your own. Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables and it is the part of the food that cannot be digested by the body. This type of fiber will form into a gel-like substance in the intestines, thereby preventing the hard and dry stools that are the source of constipation.
The ADA recommends that you eat at least twenty to thirty five grams of fiber every day to keep your digestive system in tip-top condition. It is also recommended that you stay away from overly processed foods such as bleached flours that have all of the natural fiber removed.
If you are taking medications such as pain medication, antacids, antidepressants, blood pressure medication, anti Parkinson’s medication, diuretics, anti spasmodic, anticonvulsant medication and iron supplements, constipation can be a side effect.
Often people who are taking laxatives on a regular basis will become constipated as the body becomes dependent on the drugs for bowel movements. This often happens when people are convinced that they must have a bowel movement every day or they are constipated. Over time the amount of laxatives must be increased to continue having regular bowel movements.
Medical conditions can also be responsible for constipation such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, intestinal obstruction, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypercalcemia, uremia, lupus, scleroderma, and amyloidosis.
Once the cause of the constipation has been determined, the doctor will recommend a treatment plan. In most cases, changes in diet and lifestyle are enough to relieve the condition. In some instances the doctor will prescribe laxatives for a short period of time. This is usually done after lifestyle and diet changes do not correct the problem. It is important that the patient does not abuse laxatives or they will continue to have a problem with constipation.
Medications that are responsible for the constipation may be discontinued or changed to relieve the symptom. This should only be done under the advice of a doctor as some medications should not be discontinued abruptly.
Constipation is usually not a serious condition, but if it continues for a long period of time, there can be some damage from straining. Hemorrhoids or tears in the skin can result from straining due to constipation and in young children and the elderly, the intestine can become impacted and the doctor will have to administer an enema after the patient has taken mineral oil orally. The impacted stool will have to be removed manually by the doctor.
Eat a diet that is rich in healthy fruits and vegetables along with whole grain foods to make sure that you are getting your twenty to thirty five grams of fiber every day to avoid constipation.
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