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Trouble with bowel movement: Symptoms, Causes, Tests, and Treatments

Causes, symptoms, treatments, and more

Constipation is when a person has difficulty emptying the large bowel. They may have difficulty passing stool, pain, bloating, nausea, and other symptoms. Stool may be hard and dry. Home remedies and lifestyle changes can often resolve it, but medical help may be necessary.

Constipation can happen for many reasons, such as when stool passes through the colon too slowly. The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water the colon will absorb and the harder the feces will become.

A person who poops fewer than 3 times per week may have constipation.

Sometimes, constipation results from a blockage in the large intestine. In this case, a person will need urgent medical attention. At other times, it may simply be due to a lack of fiber or water.

This article will cover the main causes of constipation and how to treat or prevent it.

Is “pebble poop” a problem? Find out here.

The main symptoms of constipation are:

  • difficulty passing stool
  • straining when passing stool
  • passing less stool than usual
  • lumpy, dry, or hard stool

Other symptoms include:

  • pain and cramping in the abdomen
  • feeling bloated
  • nausea
  • a loss of appetite

What does it mean if a person has abdominal pain as well as constipation? Find out here.

Complications

Constipation on its own can be uncomfortable, but it typically is not life threatening.

However, it can become a problem if it is a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as colorectal cancer, or if it starts to cause further damage.

Damage that can arise as a result of severe constipation includes:

  • rectal bleeding after straining
  • anal fissure, which is a small tear around the anus
  • symptomatic hemorrhoids (piles), which are swollen, inflamed blood vessels in the anus
  • fecal impaction, which occurs when dried stool stagnates and collects in the rectum and anus, potentially leading to a mechanical obstruction

Other possible complications include a reduced quality of life and depression.

Seeking medical advice for constipation may help prevent complications.

The following are some common causes of constipation:

Lack of fiber in the diet

People with a high intake of dietary fiber are less likely to experience constipation.

This is because fiber promotes regular bowel movements, especially when a person combines it with proper hydration.

High fiber foods include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes

Low fiber foods include:

  • high fat foods, such as cheese, meat, and eggs
  • highly processed foods, such as white bread
  • fast foods, chips, and other premade foods

Learn more about foods that can prevent and treat constipation here.

Physical inactivity

Low levels of physical activity may also lead to constipation.

Some past studies have found that physically fit people, including marathon runners, are less likely to experience constipation than other people, although the exact reasons for this remain unclear.

A study from 2013 notes that increasing mobility might help improve constipation among older adults.

People who spend several days or weeks in bed or sitting in a chair may have a higher risk of constipation.

Some medications

Some medications can also increase the risk of constipation. These include:

Opioid pain relief drugs: These include codeine (present with acetaminophen in Tylenol #3), oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid).

Tricyclic antidepressants: These include amitriptyline (Elavil) and imipramine (Tofranil).

Certain anticonvulsants: Examples include phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol).

Calcium channel blockers: These lower blood pressure, and certain types lower heart rate. They include diltiazem (Cardizem) and nifedipine (Procardia).

Antacids that contain aluminum: These include Amphojel and Basaljel.

Antacids that contain calcium: One example is Tums.

Diuretics: These remove excess fluid from the body. They include hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril) and furosemide (Lasix).

Iron supplements: Doctors prescribe these to treat iron deficiency anemia.

Irritable bowel syndrome

People with functional intestinal difficulty, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), have a higher risk of constipation than people without the condition.

A person with IBS may experience:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • distension
  • changes in the frequency or consistency of stools

With IBS, constipation can fluctuate over time. When constipation is not present, there may instead be loose stools with diarrhea.

Aging

As people age, the prevalence of constipation tends to increase. Up to 40% of older people in the community and up to 60% of those in institutions may experience constipation.

The exact cause of this remains unclear. It may be that as people age, food takes longer to pass through the digestive tract. Many people also become less mobile, which may also contribute to constipation.

Medical conditions, medications, and a low intake of fiber or water may be other factors that lead to constipation with age.

Changes in routine

When a person travels, for example, their usual routine changes. This can affect the digestive system. In an article from 2008, scientists asked 83 people about the digestive changes they experienced while traveling outside of the United States.

The results showed that 9% of people experienced constipation when they went to another country.

Eating meals, going to bed, and using the bathroom at different times than usual could increase the risk of constipation.

Overuse of laxatives

Some people worry that they do not use the bathroom often enough, and they take laxatives to try to solve this problem. Laxatives can help with bowel movements, but regular use of certain laxatives allows the body to get used to their action.

This may cause a person to continue taking laxatives when they no longer need them. The person may also need higher doses to get the same effect.

In other words, laxatives can be habit forming — especially stimulant laxatives. This means that the more a person depends on laxatives, the greater their risk of constipation when they stop using them.

Overuse of laxatives can also lead to:

  • dehydration
  • an electrolyte imbalance
  • internal organ damage

Some of these complications can become life threatening. For this reason, people should talk to a healthcare professional before they start using laxatives.

Not using the bathroom when necessary

If a person ignores the urge to have a bowel movement, the urge may gradually go away until they no longer feel the need to go.

However, the longer they delay, the drier and harder the stool will become. This will increase the risk of fecal impaction.

Not drinking enough water

Regularly drinking enough water can help reduce the risk of constipation.

Other suitable fluids include naturally sweetened fruit or vegetable juices and clear soups.

It is important to note that some liquids can increase the risk of dehydration and make constipation worse for some people. For example, those who are prone to constipation should limit their intake of caffeinated sodas, coffee, and alcohol.

Colorectal problems

Some health conditions that affect the colon can impede and restrict the passage of stool, leading to constipation.

Examples of such conditions include:

  • cancerous tumors
  • a hernia
  • scar tissue
  • diverticulitis
  • colorectal stricture, which is an abnormal narrowing of the colon or rectum
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Other conditions

Some other medical conditions can also cause or contribute to constipation.

These include:

Neurological conditions: Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries, and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction can lead to constipation.

Conditions that involve hormonal function, electrolytes, or renal function: These include uremia, diabetes, hypercalcemia, and hypothyroidism.

Intestinal blockage: This can occur if a tumor blocks or squeezes part of the digestive system.

Conditions that affect the digestive system: Constipation can occur with celiac disease, IBD, and other inflammatory conditions.

Cancer treatment: Chemotherapy and opioid pain relief medications, can also trigger constipation.

What is the link between diabetes and constipation? Find out here.

Constipation can sometimes affect children and babies. The following sections discuss this in more detail.

Newborns

If a newborn does not pass meconium, their first solid stool, within 48 hours of birth, they may have Hirschsprung’s disease.

This is a condition wherein certain nerve cells are missing from part of the large intestine. Stool is unable to move forward in the affected area of colon, which causes a backup.

A healthcare provider will usually be able to spot these symptoms and recommend surgery as treatment. In most cases, the outlook is good for babies born with this condition.

Young infants

If a breastfed baby goes a week without passing stool, this is not usually a problem. Breastfed infants do not usually experience constipation.

However, if parents or caregivers have concerns about a baby’s bowel movements, they can seek medical advice.

More commonly, constipation can occur:

  • when an infant first starts taking formula feeds
  • during weaning
  • during potty training
  • at times of stress

If an infant experiences constipation while consuming formula feed, they may benefit from drinking extra water between feeds. Parents and caregivers should not add extra water to the formula, however.

If the infant is already consuming solids, they may need more fiber and water in their diet. Fruit can be a good option. However, do not force children to eat if they do not want to, as this can cause or add to stress.

During potty training, constipation can occur if a child feels stressed, especially if other changes are occurring, such as starting at nursery. Giving the child plenty of time to empty their bowels may help.

Apart from not passing stool, some symptoms that indicate constipation in children include:

  • a firm or distended abdomen
  • low energy
  • reduced appetite
  • irritability

According to one source, around 40% of women experience constipation during pregnancy.

This can result from:

  • hormonal changes
  • physical changes, such as when the uterus presses on the intestines
  • dietary or physical activity changes

Many women take iron supplements during pregnancy. These can contribute to constipation and other changes in bowel habits.

Constipation usually resolves itself without the need for prescription treatment. In most cases, making lifestyle changes — such as getting more exercise, eating more fiber, and drinking more water — can help.

Allowing time for defecation, without stress or interruption, may also help. People should also not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.

Laxatives can improve symptoms in the short-term, but people should use them with care and only when necessary. This is because some laxatives can have severe adverse effects.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urge people to check with their doctor before using them, and to follow the instructions on the label with care.

If constipation persists, people should see a doctor. They may need stronger medication. The doctor may also test for any underlying conditions.

Keeping a record of bowel movements, stool characteristics, and dietary and other factors may help find a suitable treatment.

Laxatives

Some laxatives are available over the counter, while others are available with a prescription.

People should only consider using laxatives if making lifestyle changes has not helped. It is best to check with a doctor before use.

The following are some laxatives and stool softeners that may help ease constipation:

Fiber supplements: Also known as bulk-forming laxatives, these may be the safest option. FiberCon is one example. People should take these with plenty of water. Bulk-forming laxatives are available from pharmacies and to purchase online.

Stimulants: These cause the muscles in the intestines to contract rhythmically. Senokot is one example.

Lubricants: These help the stool move smoothly through the colon. One example is mineral oil (Fleet).

Stool softeners: These moisten the stool. Examples include Colace and Surfak.

Osmotics: These draw water into the colon to hydrate the stool and ease movement. Saline laxatives are a type of osmotic.

Neuromuscular agents: These include opioid antagonists and 5-HT4 agonists. They work at specific receptors to regulate movement through the gut.

How do stool softeners compare with other laxatives? Find out here.

Other treatment options

If laxatives do not work, a doctor may need to remove impacted stool manually or surgically.

If constipation does not respond to treatment or if there are other symptoms, a doctor may suggest an abdominal imaging study — such as a CT scan, MRI scan, or X-ray — to see if there is a blockage due to an underlying disease process in the gut.

If there is, a person may need specific prescription medications or surgery to resolve it. Depending on the results of the tests and the person’s response to medical or surgical therapy, they may also need further treatment.

Find out more about the causes and treatments of hard stool here.

Some methods of easing constipation without using medication include:

Increasing fiber intake

Adults should eat 25–31 grams of fiber every day. Fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fortified cereals, have a high fiber content.

Adding fiber-containing bulking agents to meals can help soften stools and make them easier to pass. One option is to sprinkle a tablespoon of wheat bran onto breakfast cereals or add it to a yogurt or smoothie.

Drinking water

Water can help rehydrate the body and prevent constipation.

Getting regular exercise

This can help make bodily processes more regular, including the passing of stools.

Establishing a routine

Have a usual place and time of day to visit the bathroom without forcing a stool.

Avoiding holding in stools

Responding to the body’s urges to pass stools can help prevent constipation.

Elevating the feet

Some people find it easier to pass stools during a bowel movement if they place their feet on a low platform, such as a step, with their knees above hip level.

Complementary and alternative remedies

Other possible therapies include acupuncture, massage, herbal remedies, and moxibustion, which involves stimulating acupuncture points with the herb mugwort.

One 2015 study concluded that acupuncture and herbal remedies may help, but that more evidence is needed to confirm the usefulness of these methods.

That being said, the use of herbal remedies is complex, and people should always speak to a doctor before trying anything new, as they can have adverse effects.

Anyone who has concerns about constipation should speak to their doctor.

People should seek medical attention for constipation if the following symptoms also develop:

  • severe discomfort or worsening symptoms
  • constipation that starts suddenly without a clear reason
  • ongoing constipation that has not responded to lifestyle changes
  • blood in the stool or bleeding from the rectum
  • constant pain in the abdomen or lower back
  • difficulty passing gas
  • a fever
  • vomiting
  • unexpected weight loss

What are the signs of colorectal cancer? Find out here.

Constipation is a common occurrence that can result from dietary habits, medical conditions, and a range of other factors.

If possible, it is best to resolve it using home remedies, such as eating more fiber, drinking more water, and getting regular exercise.

If a person has severe symptoms or discomfort, if constipation comes on suddenly, or if symptoms get worse, they should speak to their doctor.

Read the article in Spanish.

Q:

I have heard that if you have constipation, you should avoid bananas, rice, and yogurt. Is this true?

A:

Many health professionals consider yogurt with probiotics to be beneficial to colon health, and probiotics may help in treating constipation. However, consuming too much may lead to loose stools.

Green bananas do have a higher starch and tannin content than bananas that are ripe and yellow, so a person may want to avoid eating less ripened bananas if they worsen their constipation symptoms.

A diet heavy in starch, such as that which occurs in rice, may also give rise to constipation.

When eating any type of food — even healthful ones — people should consider the amount they eat, how their body reacts to certain foods, and the overall balance of food groups. People should try to eat a diet that is healthful and well-balanced, which will help prevent or treat constipation. Such a diet should include a good balance of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains, which contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Staying well-hydrated and physically active will also help prevent or relieve constipation.

If a person has specific questions regarding a diet to address constipation, they should talk to their physician, who will be able to help make suggestions to best accomplish this.

Stacy Sampson, DOAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

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Constipation – Better Health Channel

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Summary

Read the full fact sheet

  • Most cases of constipation are successfully treated by eating a diet high in fibre, drinking more fluids and exercising daily.
  • Complications of chronic constipation include haemorrhoids, faecal impaction and rectal prolapse.
  • Over-the-counter laxatives are fine in the short term, but seek advice if the problem persists.

Constipation is the passing of hard, dry bowel motions (stools) that may be infrequent or difficult to pass. The most common causes of constipation include a change in routine, not enough fibre in the daily diet, not enough fluids and lack of exercise.

See your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. It is important not to over-treat constipation with laxatives in place of seeking medical advice.

Stools explained

Food nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. Waste is massaged down the length of the large intestine by waves of muscular contractions (peristalsis). Once the excess water is removed, the waste is temporarily stored in the rectum. The anus is a muscular ring (sphincter) that can be opened at will to allow the removal of faeces.

Water makes up about three quarters of faecal content, while the rest is composed of solids, including undigested fibre, intestinal bacteria and dietary fats.

Symptoms of constipation

The symptoms include:

  • needing to open the bowels less often than usual
  • hard, dry stools that may be painful to pass
  • straining to pass the motion
  • having to sit on the toilet for much longer than usual
  • the sensation afterwards that the bowel hasn’t fully emptied
  • bloated abdomen
  • abdominal cramps.

In some cases, constipation is caused by more serious illnesses and events, including tumours and systemic diseases.

Constipation can be caused by many different lifestyle factors that often work in combination, including:

  • A change in routine – normal bowel motions depend on the regular and rhythmic contraction of the bowels. This is part of the body’s internal ‘clock’ and is often upset with changes in routine. This type of constipation is often seen in shift workers and travellers.
  • Low-fibre diet – as fibre is indigestible, it adds bulk to the faeces, making it more easily pushed along the digestive tract. There are two broad types of fibre; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre helps to soften the faeces. Good sources of soluble fibre include legumes, fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the faeces, helping it to move more quickly through the bowel. Good sources of insoluble fibre are in wheat bran, wholegrain breads and cereals.
  • Insufficient water – the fibre in faeces will only plump up with water. Constipation can occur from a high-fibre diet if insufficient water is consumed.
  • Lack of regular exercise – living a sedentary lifestyle or being restricted in movement due to a disability are common causes of constipation.
  • A tendency to ‘put off’ going to the toilet – ignoring the urge to go means that more water will be extracted from the stools, making them difficult to pass. Regularly ignoring this urge may make the body less sensitive to normal signals to go to the toilet.
  • Some medications – such as narcotics (particularly codeine), antidepressants, iron supplements, calcium-channel blockers (antihypertensives, particularly verapamil) and non-magnesium antacids are known to slow bowel movements.
  • Pregnancy – the action of hormones, reduced activity and the pressure of the growing uterus against the intestines mean that constipation is common during pregnancy.
  • Advancing age – constipation is more common in the elderly. This is due to a number of factors, including reduced intestinal muscle contractions and reliance on regular medications.
  • Illness – a period of illness, particularly an illness resulting in hospitalisation and bed-rest, typically results in constipation. Factors include change in routine, shyness, reduced food intake, pain (especially after abdominal surgery), and pain-relief medication such as morphine. Short-term treatment with laxatives is often required, but may be overlooked.

Medical causes of constipation

Constipation is sometimes symptomatic of underlying medical problems, such as:

  • ‘Slow transit’ – some people naturally pass motions less often than most people. It seems their bowel ‘pacemaker’ may be less active. These individuals are more likely to become constipated with minor changes in their routine.
  • Anal fissure – a tear in the lining of the anus (anal mucosa). The person may resist going to the toilet for fear of pain.
  • Obstruction – the rectum or anus may be partially obstructed by, for example, haemorrhoids (piles) or a rectal prolapse.
  • Rectocoele – the rectum pushes through the weakened rear wall of the vagina when the woman bears down or strains.
  • Hernia – an abdominal hernia can reduce intra-abdominal pressure, which makes it more difficult to pass a motion.
  • Abdominal or gynaecological surgery – a combination of change in routine, strange surroundings, post-operative pain and codeine-containing analgesics is a potent cause of constipation and often needs preventive care.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome – characterised by abdominal pain, bloating, and either constipation or diarrhoea or alternating constipation and diarrhoea.
  • Problems of the endocrine system – such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or hypopituitarism.
  • Tumour – pain while trying to pass a stool could be a symptom of rectal cancer.
  • Diseases of the central nervous system – such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or stroke are associated with an increased susceptibility to constipation.

Complications of chronic constipation

Some of the complications of chronic constipation include:

  • Faecal impaction – the lower bowel and rectum become so packed with faeces that the muscles of the bowels can’t push any of it out.
  • Faecal incontinence – an overfull bowel can result in involuntary ‘dribbling’ of diarrhoea.
  • Haemorrhoids – constant straining to open the bowel can damage the blood vessels of the rectum.
  • Rectal prolapse – the constant straining pushes a section of rectal lining out of the anus.
  • Urinary incontinence – the constant straining weakens pelvic floor muscles. This makes the involuntary passing of urine more likely, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing.

Diagnosis of constipation

The underlying reason for the constipation must be found. Diagnosis may include:

  • medical history
  • physical examination
  • detailed questioning about medications, diet, exercise and lifestyle habits
  • colonoscopy.

Treatment for constipation

Treatment depends on the cause, but could include:

  • Removal of the impacted faeces – which may involve enemas, stool softeners and a short-term course of laxatives.
  • Dietary changes – such as increasing the amount of fibre in the daily diet. Dietitians generally recommend about 30g of fibre every day. Good sources of fibre include wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. The intake of foods such as milk, cheese, white rice, white flour and red meat should be restricted, because they tend to contribute to constipation.
  • More fluids – liquids help to plump out faeces. However, it is important to restrict the intake of diuretic drinks such as tea, coffee and alcohol.
  • Fibre supplements – these may be helpful if the person is reluctant or unable to include more wholegrain foods, fresh fruits or vegetables in their daily diet. As fibre supplements can aggravate or cause constipation, always check with your doctor or dietitian when using them.
  • Exercise – one of the many benefits of regular exercise is improved bowel motility. Ideally, exercise should be taken every day for about 30 minutes. People with a condition that affects mobility need to be as active as possible each day, as every little bit of regular exercise helps.
  • Treatment for underlying disorder – such as surgery to repair an abdominal hernia, hormone replacement therapy for hypothyroidism, or anaesthetic cream and sitz (salt water) baths for an anal fissure.
  • Laxatives – there are two main types: bowel stimulants and agents that increase the water content of the stool. Bowel stimulants increase bowel contractions, but may cause cramps. Agents that increase the water content may interfere with the absorption of water from the bowel, or swell or bulk up the stool with fluid. When used appropriately, laxatives can greatly relieve acute and chronic constipation. There is little evidence that chronic use of laxatives at appropriate doses will lead to a ‘lazy’ or ‘twisted’ bowel.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Dietitians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942
  • Pharmacist

Things to remember

  • Most cases of constipation are successfully treated by eating a diet high in fibre, drinking more fluids and exercising daily.
  • Complications of chronic constipation include haemorrhoids, faecal impaction and rectal prolapse.
  • Over-the-counter laxatives are fine in the short term, but seek advice if the problem persists.

  • Bowel problems – constipationExternal Link, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
  • FibreExternal Link, Dietitians Association of Australia.
  • ‘Is chronic use of stimulant laxatives harmful to the colon?’External Link2003, Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, vol. 36, no. 5, pp. 386–389.
  • ‘Adverse effects of laxatives’External Link, Diseases of the Colon Rectum, vol. 44, no. 8, pp. 1201–1209.
  • Muller-Lissner, SA, ‘Adverse effects of laxatives: fact and fiction’External Link, Pharmacology, vol. 47, Suppl 1, pp. 138–145.

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Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.

Reviewed on: 31-08-2014

Intestinal constipation: causes, treatment, diet

Every person faced the problem of constipation at least once in his life. If difficulties with bowel movements are observed regularly, then the pathology has acquired a chronic form. In chronic constipation, bowel movements occur less than 3 times a week. At the same time, the chair itself is rare and hard. A constipated person spends more time on the toilet than usual. In the process of defecation, the straining time increases.

Causes of constipation

Intestinal constipation can occur for various reasons.

The first cluster of causes is associated with congenital or acquired pathologies of the large intestine:

  • anal fissures
  • polyps
  • internal and external hemorrhoids
  • tumors
  • megarectum
  • megadolichosigma
  • atresia

The second type of causes of constipation include concomitant diseases of the digestive, endocrine and genitourinary systems.

There are also a number of causes of unknown origin, due to which the motility of the rectum and colon is impaired.

Functional constipation can be caused by malnutrition. Eating low in dietary fiber, as well as taking certain medications (diuretics, antidepressants, iron supplements, antacids, anticholinergics) interfere with bowel movements.

A few more causes of chronic constipation:

  • wrong way of life
  • “knocked down” day and night mode
  • lack of physical activity
  • low fluid intake (body dehydration)
  • “inert” colon syndrome (slow movement of feces)

Special mention should be made of constipation during pregnancy – due to the internal pressure of the fetus, there may be a delay in bowel movements.

Treatment of constipation

People who have problems with bowel movements often ask themselves the question: what to do with constipation? The treatment of constipation, including chronic constipation, is aimed at eliminating the primary pathology that resulted in the problem, as well as changing lifestyle, diet, working conditions, etc.

For the treatment of constipation, a proctologist or gastroenterologist should be consulted. Frequent constipation can be a sign of serious diseases of the stomach and intestines, so we do not recommend self-medication: it would be wiser to make an appointment with a trusted specialist.

Qualified doctors of the Naedine Clinic will conduct a complete examination of the gastrointestinal tract, establish the root cause of the problem and choose the appropriate method of treatment.

Medications are widely used in the treatment of constipation. The type of medication, dose and duration of administration are calculated individually for each patient.

Diet for constipation

Doctor prescribes a special diet for constipation . It is necessary to eat foods rich in fiber daily, for example:

  • wheat, oatmeal, pearl barley, buckwheat cereals
  • vegetables (carrots, beets, marrows)
  • wholemeal bread
  • bran
  • fruits and berries, including dried fruits (figs, prunes, dates, dried apricots, bananas, non-sour apples)
  • vegetable and fruit juices
  • fermented milk products (kefir, curdled milk, acidophilus)
  • olive, sunflower, linseed, corn oil

Food should be taken 4 times a day. The amount of fluid consumed for constipation should be at least 1.5 liters per day.

The patient must “learn” to go to the toilet to empty his bowels in the morning. With the right treatment regimen, the patient will be able to walk “in a big way” every 1-2 days.

Sign up for a consultation with a proctologist at the Naedine Clinic by phone (8332) 32-7777 or through the online appointment form on our website!

Help, constipation! How to avoid painful and unpleasant bowel problems

Who at least once in their life has not encountered such a delicate and unpleasant situation as constipation? When traveling, when changing lifestyle, in the event of an ill-conceived diet or when taking medication, constipation is the first signal that the body needs support. How to take care of the proper functioning of your intestinal tract in daily life so that it does not interfere with good health and health – more on this in this article.

Everyone’s bowel habits are different, one has three bowels a day, another three times a week, but constipation is considered difficult bowel movements or dry and hard stools less than three times a week.

Most common signs of constipation:

  • stool less than three times a week;
  • lumpy, hard and dry feces;
  • tension or pain during bowel movements;
  • Feeling full even after a bowel movement.

Often, constipation is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, in more severe cases, vomiting, bloating and blood in the stool. Chronic constipation can contribute to swelling of the rectal veins and hemorrhoids, cause anal fissures or fissures, hardened feces can accumulate and become stuck in the intestines, and there may also be prolapse of the rectal mucosa (protrusion or prolapse of the rectum occurs spontaneously or during exercise).

What happens in the intestines and how?

The main function of the rectum is to absorb water from food debris as it passes through the digestive system and form feces or waste products. The muscles of the large intestine then push the feces out of the body through the rectum. If stool sits in the colon for too long, it can harden and be difficult to remove from the body.

The most common cause of constipation is poor nutrition. To keep the feces soft and easy for the intestines to excrete, fiber and water are important. Fiber-rich foods are mostly plant-based foods, and fiber can be either water-soluble or insoluble.

Soluble fiber “travels” through the digestive system to form a soft, jelly-like material, while insoluble fiber, while passing through the digestive system, retains its structure. Both types of fiber combine with the stool, increasing its weight and size while making it softer, making it easier to pass through the rectum.

However, diet is not always to blame – stress and lifestyle changes can slow down the contractions of the colon muscles and lead to constipation.

The most common causes of constipation are:

  • foods low in fiber, especially diets high in meat, milk or cheese;
  • dehydration;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • delaying going to the toilet;
  • travel or other changes in lifestyle;
  • medicines, including various antacids, painkillers, diuretics, various drugs for Parkinson’s disease, etc. ;
  • pregnancy.

Older people at risk

In older people, constipation is not associated with age, but with a number of factors that affect the overall health of the body. First, with age, the feeling of thirst decreases, so they drink less, so the feces are more solid. Secondly, factors such as chronic illness, sedentary lifestyle, neurological and psychiatric disorders, and inappropriate diet contribute to constipation.

Various medications also contribute to bowel problems. Elderly people often take various medications, and many of them have one of the side effects is difficult bowel movements. For example, anticholinergic medications used to treat asthma and bladder problems can contribute to constipation. The cause of constipation can also be certain medications that are taken to regulate blood pressure, iron supplements and the already mentioned medications for Parkinson’s disease.

Constipation can be a side effect of a variety of serious illnesses, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, colon cancer, and other dangerous illnesses.

Prolonged constipation in the elderly can lead to anal ruptures, hemorrhoids, paraproctitis, fecal stones (coprolites), etc. In addition, in the elderly, stress during constipation can cause angina pectoris and cerebral hemorrhage.

Groups of constipating drugs

There are several classes of medications that can contribute to constipation. The best known of these are opioid pain medications. They are effective in relieving pain, but can be addictive and slow down the bowels, leading to hard, dry stools.

In the case of arthritis, various anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed, they are also used to reduce fever and relieve mild to moderate pain. Although the drugs in this group have many good properties, they can cause constipation.

Antihistamines are taken to reduce various allergy symptoms, but be aware that they can slow down normal bowel movements and defecation. If we are talking about an elderly person, we should definitely mention the medications that are taken to regulate blood pressure. They contain substances that contribute to the development of constipation. Mention should also be made of iron preparations and supplements for the treatment of anemia and iron deficiency, which make the stool hard and dry.

Recommendations to prevent constipation:

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains;
  • eat high-fiber foods, if necessary, take fiber supplements;
  • include prunes or bran in your diet;
  • drink plenty of water;
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine as they contribute to dehydration;
  • exercise regularly;
  • Eat probiotics, such as those found in yogurt and kefir;
  • try to have a bowel movement at the same time every day.

In urgent cases, it is recommended to use preparations containing macrogol for the treatment of constipation. Masrogolum 4000 is an osmotic laxative that effectively binds water. It increases the amount of water in the colon and slows down the absorption of water from the intestinal tract, softening hard stools and increasing their volume, thus increasing the movement of intestinal contents.