Constipation

Almost everyone gets constipated at some time during his or her life, but it’s still one of those topics few like to talk about.....

What Is Constipation?


Constipation is a common digestive problem and it occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements varies. Some people have bowel movements three times a day, others, may have only one or two times a week. However, going longer than two or three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool becomes harder and more difficult to pass. In fact, people who are constipated may find it difficult and painful to have a bowel movement. Sometimes you may feel like you still need to have a bowel movement even after you've had one. Women and the elderly are more commonly affected.  In most cases, constipation is temporary and not serious.

If you have two or more of the following for at least 3 months, you might be considered constipated:
- Straining during a bowel movement more than 25% of the time.
- Hard stools more than 25% of the time.
- Incomplete evacuation more than 25% of the time.
- Two or fewer bowel movements in a week.

What Causes Constipation?

Constipation is usually caused by a disorder of bowel function rather than a structural problem. As the food you eat passes through your digestive tract, your body takes nutrients and water from the food. This process creates a stool, which is moved through your intestines with muscle contractions.
A number of things can affect this process. Factors that can contribute to constipation include:

- Inadequate water and liquids intake.
- Not enough fiber in the diet.
- A disruption of regular diet or routine; traveling.
- Inadequate activity or lack of exercise or immobility.
- Eating large amounts of dairy products.
- Stress.
- Hemorrhoids that result in resisting or ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement,
- Overuse of laxatives (stool softeners) which, over time, weaken the bowel muscles.
- Antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminium.
- Medicines (such as strong pain medicines - narcotics, antidepressants, diuretics or iron pills).
- Depression.
- Eating disorders.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Pregnancy.
- Older age
- Specific diseases, such as a stroke, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis
- Problems with the colon and rectum or colon cancer
- Problems with intestinal function (chronic idiopathic constipation).
- Metabolic and Endocrine Conditions such as Diabetes, Overactive Thyroid Gland, Uremia, Hypercalcemia
 
What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?

Constipation, literally, is a symptom, not a disease. It occurs when a person passes small amounts of hard, dry stool, usually fewer than three times a week and it might be found difficult and painful to have a bowel movement.
 
Constipation symptoms include feeling:
- Bloated
- Uncomfortable
- Sluggish.
Also:
- Abdominal pain.
- Pain.
- Vomiting.

Sometimes, however, constipation can lead to other complications, which have their own set of symptoms. These include:
- Hemorrhoids - caused by straining to have a bowel movement
- Anal fissures - caused when hard stool stretches the sphincter muscle
- Rectal prolapse - a small amount of intestinal lining to push out from the anal opening - secretion of mucus from the anus
- Fecal impaction -  caused by hard stool that pack the intestine and rectum so tightly that the normal pushing action of the colon is not enough to expel the stool

Foods That Cause Constipation

Foods that cause constipation are typically low in fiber and high in fat.
Low-fiber foods that can cause constipation include:
- Ice cream
- Cheese
- Meat
- Snacks like chips and pizza
- Other processed foods, such as instant mashed potatoes or frozen dinners. 

Both children and adults eat more refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed. There’s thousand of snacks and pre-packaged meals that fall into this category.

Foods that treat constipation

Eating high-fiber foods is an effective treatment of constipation and people who are eating them are less likely to become constipated.
Ideas for high-fiber foods can be found in the table below.

 Fruit  Vegetable  Breads, Cereals, Beans
 Apples  Broccoli, raw
Black-eyed peas, cooked
 Peaches  Brussels Sprouts, raw
Kidney beans, cooked
 Raspberries  Cabbage, raw
Lima beans, cooked
 Tangerines  Carrots, raw
Whole-grain cereal, cold (All-Bran, Bran Flakes)
   Cauliflower, raw
Whole-grain cereal, hot (oatmeal)
   Spinach, cooked
 
   Zucchini, raw
 

How Can I Prevent Constipation?

There are several things you can do to prevent constipation such as:
- Use everyday diet supplement called AC-Zymes – improve bowel movements and contains natural bacterial, intestinal flora (2 billions of Acidophilus bacteria) that fights against micro organism leaving in your intestines and causing constipation. Appropriate dose is 3 times a day, 2 capsules at the beginning. After a month, when it gets better you may take on, 2 capsules one or two times per day.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber, that can be found in all fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal.
- Fiber and water help the colon pass stool, thus drink 4 to 5 pints of water and other fluids a day (unless fluid restricted for another medical condition).  Remember! Liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and soft drinks have a dehydrating effect and may need to be avoided until your bowel problems return to normal. For some people milk and other dairy products may be constipating that’s why they should avoid them.
- Exercise regularly.
- Move your bowels when you feel the urge.

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