Constipation is a condition characterized by fewer than three bowel movements in a week in addition to hard and dry stools that are difficult and painful to pass. In this condition, the patient is unable to completely empty the bowels.
Treatment for constipation depends upon the following factors:
In the majority of cases, constipation resolves itself without any treatment. You may try home remedies and natural remedies for relieving from constipation.
But in severe cases, proper treatment is necessary for a balanced life.
The treatment of constipation includes the following:
Bowel training is the most important aspect of treating constipation. Like any other activity emptying bowels also requires a dedicated piece of time. Enough time should be given to the activity without distractions, without stress and without feeling rushed.
In the morning, after getting up is the best time to empty the bowels. It is better if the process is carried out at the same time every day.
Fiber intake is essential for an easy and speedy passage of stool. It adds bulk to the stool. For every 1,000 calories in the diet, doctors recommend an intake of 14 g of fiber. There are many sources of fiber including:
Extra fluids in the body help keep the stool soft and easy to pass. Drinking enough water is always helpful for constipation. A glass of water can wash down the bowels easily. Water adds fluid to the colon and bulk to the stool, making bowel movements softer and easier. Other than water, there are other fluids that can also help in treating constipation including:
Exercise helps keep the digestive tract healthy. It also increases muscles activity in intestines. Doctors always recommend a “five days in a week” plan. Some exercises which can help alleviate constipation are:
But before starting with any of the above exercises, a clean slate from the doctor is very necessary. He is the one who can tell whether the patient is healthy enough to start an exercise program.
Laxatives are substances which are used either to loosen stool or to stimulate a bowel movement and provide relief from constipation pain.
There are a number of different types of laxative and each one effect the digestive system in a different way. Therefore choosing the correct laxative is essential. The different laxatives which are available over the counter are:
Fiber supplements can help get as much fiber the body needs for health. They are given to add bulk to the stool. They also improve the digestion. These include:
When taking fiber supplements, it is important to keep the body hydrated to minimize the possibility of flatulence and a possible obstruction.
Stimulant laxatives provide an instantaneous relief from constipation. They work by stimulating the lining of the intestine which eventually accelerates the journey of the stool through the colon. Stimulants also hydrate the stool. These include:
These laxatives decrease the patient’s natural ability to defecate and make him laxative-dependent. Therefore one should not make them a habit.
Osmotics are the hydrating substances that absorb fluid from the surrounding tissues of the intestine and hydrate it. This results in softer stools that are easier to pass. Examples include:
It is important to drink a lot of water with osmotic laxatives to decrease the possibility of gas and cramps.
Lubricant laxatives make stools slippery and easy to pass. Mineral oil is used in these products. This oil adds a slick layer to the walls of the intestine and stops the stool from drying. Lubricants are simple and inexpensive laxatives. Some lubricants used are:
These lubricants should not be continued for a longer time period because mineral oil can absorb vitamins from the intestine and does not allow other fat-soluble prescription drugs to be absorbed into the body.
When taking other medications or supplements, lubricants should be avoided.
Stool softeners moisten the stool by drawing water from the intestines. Some of the stool softeners are:
Sodium phosphate, soapsuds or tap water enemas are used to soften stool and produce a bowel movement.
If over-the-counter medications fail to treat chronic constipation, the doctor may recommend a prescription medication. These medications draw water into the intestines. They include:
Biofeedback is a behavioral therapy that is used to treat people with constipation, which do not respond to standard treatment. It involves working with a therapist who uses devices to help the patient to learn how to relax and tighten the pelvic muscles. Once the person knows when to relax the pelvic floor muscles for an easy and smooth defecation, he can get rid of the problem of constipation.
This process works in a series of steps including:
This therapy can help the patient to restore a sense of personal control over the pelvic muscles. However, the benefits of biofeedback vary from person to person.
What to do for constipation in case all options fail?
Surgery is the last option in the cure of constipation when no other treatment is found effective. It includes surgical removal of part of the colon. In the procedure, the problem segment of the anal sphincter or rectum is removed. This is the final and permanent solution for constipation.
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