Do you Suffer from Constipation?
Constipation is a very common problem, and it can have many causes. It is characterized by infrequent bowel movements, typically defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week, and sometimes also by pain during bowel movements or a general feeling of discomfort in the abdomen. One of its most common causes is insufficient dietary fiber intake. It is also common during pregnancy and as a side effect of opioid drugs, including many prescription painkillers. Most medically diagnosed cases of constipation are in older adults, and more than half of patients diagnosed with constipation are women.
Dietary Causes of Constipation
Many cases of constipation are caused by diet and can be treated by changing one’s diet. Insufficient fluid intake and diets low in dietary fiber have been shown to increase the risk of constipation, as have diets in which the amount of food consumed is severely restricted. To treat any prevent constipation, adults should drink about 64 ounces of water per day and eat plant-based foods which are high in fiber, as well as eating yogurt with active cultures. Examples of high-fiber foods that promote digestion include lettuce, citrus fruits, beans, and legumes such as lentil and chickpeas.
Constipation as a Drug Side Effect
Constipation can be a side effect of many drugs, most notably opioid analgesics, such as codeine and morphine. Antacids that contain aluminum can also cause constipation, as can some antidepressants and diuretics.
As a Symptom of Other Diseases
There are many illnesses of which constipation is a symptom. It can be associated with celiac disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and irritable bowel syndrome. Further testing is required to make a diagnosis of any of these diseases.
How do you Treat Constipation
Mild cases of constipation can be cured through diet. Increasing one’s consumption of water, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can cure less severe cases of constipation. If that does not work, the next thing to try is over-the-counter laxatives. Saline laxatives such as milk of magnesia, magnesium citrate, and Epsom salts relieve constipation by causing the large intestine to absorb water. These laxatives have few side effects. Stimulant laxatives work by promoting peristalsis (contractions of intestinal muscles), but these laxatives can be dangerous, as they can form physical dependence, meaning that the user may become constipated again upon discontinuing them. For severe cases of constipation that do not respond to over-the-counter treatments, doctors may recommend prescription laxatives, such as Tegaserod and Prucalopride.