When sitting hours in the bathroom only produces pain and discomfort, people usually turn to the internet for constipation help. However, while there are a number of treatments and remedies, understanding the cause of constipation is as important as ordering an effective laxative.
Hard fecal matter that is difficult to expel and/or produces pain is the first symptom associated with constipation. A gap of more than 4 days between bowel movements is also another sign of this condition associated with the digestive system. It usually occurs when the colon absorbs excess water from the food that is being digested. It can also indicate lack or undersupply of fiber in the diet, among other causes. Here are a few that can help you pinpoint the actual problem behind constipation:
- Lack of fiber
As discussed before, the insufficient fiber in the diet is one of the most common reasons behind constipation. It helps add bulk to the stool and increases water retention, making it easier to pass. Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains – including bran. If you suffer from chronic constipation, try and avoid high-fat foods.
A number of medicines can also cause constipation. Narcotic drugs (oxycodone, opioids, codeine), antidepressants, supplements, aluminum-based antacids, diuretics, anticonvulsants are common constipation-causing medications, among others.
- Physical inactivity
A sedentary lifestyle can also give rise to digestive system issues like constipation. It has been observed that physical inactivity increases the risk as seen in bedridden individuals. There is a number of theories to explain this, but no solid proof has been found yet.
Some believe that high metabolism, attributed to physical activity, is linked to proper digestion. The risk also increases with age. As older people usually lead a more sedentary life when compared to younger adults, the risk of developing constipation also increases. The muscles of the digestive tract also weaken with age.
- Overuse of laxatives
It is a common myth that you should have at least one bowel movements a day. This is not true. However, some people tend to use (and overuse) laxatives to relieve themselves every day. With frequent use, the body becomes used to a laxative and requires a larger dose to produce the same effect. Also, laxatives gradually become a habit, and when stopped can lead to constipation.
- Ignoring nature’s call
People who do not go to the toilet when the urge hits are also susceptible to constipation. When the urge is ignored, it can slowly go away. The drier and harder the longer the call remains unattended.
- Not drinking enough water
If constipation already exists then drinking excess water is not going to help. However, drinking plenty of liquids on a regular basis can increase the bulk of the stool and reduce the risk of constipation. However, liquids do not refer to alcohol and caffeinated drinks, which can worsen the condition. Alcohol can easily dehydrate the body and should be avoided if you suffer from constipation often.
- Changes in daily routine
Traveling, pulling regular overnighters, sudden changes in work shifts are a few examples of change in routine. Thus, mealtime changes, changing the time at which you go to the toilet. These changes may lead to constipation.
Patients of irritable bowel syndrome are more susceptible to constipation in comparison to the rest of the population.
- Colon or rectum-related problems
Issues with colon and rectum can also lead to constipation. Scar tissues, tumors, narrowing of rectum or colon, diverticulosis, etc. can cause an obstruction in the passage of stool. Also, a congenital disease called Hirschsprung disease can make one predisposed to develop constipation.
- Diseases and disorder
A number of disorders and diseases can also cause constipation. Systemic diseases (those that affect the whole body or a number of organs) such as amyloidosis, lupus, and scleroderma, neurological disorders, such as spinal cord injury, MS, stroke, Parkinson’s, etc. and metabolic conditions, namely, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and uremia among others are just some examples of medical issues that may lead to constipation.
While constipation is an age-old issue, it is quite manageable, especially with a diet full of fiber and optimum water intake. Also, while laxatives can sound like the best remedy, do not self medicate as they can cause constipation in the long run.