Constipation is a common digestive problem that is seen in people of all ages and both genders. It means one is having either fewer than normal bowel movements or hard stools or even both.
Usually, it is seen that constipation is not a serious health problem. But it has an adverse effect on the quality of life of an individual.
What are the symptoms of constipation?
- Less than three bowel movements in a week
- Straining at stool
- Small or hard stool
- Unsatisfactory stools
- Bloated abdomen
- Difficulty passing stool, pressing on the abdomen to pass stools or even mechanically removing stools using a finger.
- The sensation is as if there is a blockage in the rectum that prevents stool.
Constipation becomes chronic if two or more of these symptoms persist for three months at a stretch.
What are the causes of constipation?
- Changes in food habits or daily activities.
- Inadequate fiber in the diet
- Inadequate water intake
- Eating too many dairy products
- Being inactive
- Resisting the desire to pass stool
- Mental stress
- Overuse of laxatives
- Certain medications such as painkillers, iron pills or antidepressants
- Antacids that contain aluminum or calcium
- Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia
- Colon cancer
- Problem with muscles and nerves in the digestive system
- Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism
- Neurological problems such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis etc
- Hypercalcemia or having too much calcium in the blood. it can be due to medications, cancer especially that of breast, lungs or multiple myeloma, overactive parathyroid glands etc.
What are the complications of constipation?
- Haemorrhoids or swollen veins in the anus.
- Anal fissure or tear in the anal skin
- Faecal impaction- Due to chronic constipation the accumulated stool becomes hard and gets stuck in the intestines.
- Rectal prolapsed or the protrusion of the intestine from the anus
What are the 7 tips to get rid of constipation immediately?
- Have high-fiber food- Certain food items such as oats, cereals, whole-grain bread, fibrous fruits and veggies, and rice and beans are rich in fiber. They help to add bulk or volume to the stools. This helps to push stools further into the intestines and eventually out of the body.
- Water- Drinking a large glass of water or any other clean liquid may help to trigger a bowel movement.
- Squat position– Squat position is more effective than the seated position to poop without straining. One can put feet on a stool in front of the toilet seat while passing stools.
- Exercise– Some exercises such as jogging and walking help to raise the flow of blood to the abdomen. This can trigger a bowel movement.
- Yoga -There are certain yoga poses that are known to be very effective in stimulating bowel movement.
- Colonic massage – When the colon is massaged it can stimulate bowel movement.
- Laxative– One can use the counter laxative from the local pharmacy.
What are the lifestyle changes that can help to prevent constipation?
There are certain changes that can be made in one’s lifestyle to help prevent the occurrence of constipation more permanently.
- Add more fiber to the diet. One can add fresh vegetables and fruits, beans, legumes and whole grains to the diet.
- Regular exercise such as jogging, walking, cycling, swimming and other such exercises are recommended. They help to increase blood circulation to the abdomen which stimulates bowel movements.
- Never resist the urge for stools.
- Take plenty of fluids– One should try to take eight 8- ounce glasses of fluids daily. It should mostly comprise water and other clear liquids.
- Manage the stress– One can practice yoga and stress relaxation exercises. One should laugh and sing often under this. It is also recommended to take adequate rest days to avoid stress from building up. Also one should be able to set their priorities right in terms of the most important people and activities in their life. Once decided one should learn to say No to lesser important things and people.
What are the diagnostic tools for constipation?
In cases of chronic constipation the doctor can advise the following tests and procedures to try to identify the cause
- Blood tests such as for high calcium or low thyroid levels.
- X-Ray to find any blockage in the intestines.
- Endoscopy or camera viewing of the rectum or colon.
- Anorectal manometry for the evaluation of the anal sphincter muscle function.
- Balloon expulsion test for the evaluation of anal sphincter muscle speed.
- Colonic transit study for evaluation of how well the food moves through the colon.
- Defecography during defecation can be X-ray or MRI based.
What is the treatment of constipation?
In the conventional system of medicine, laxatives are commonly used to treat constipation. This form of treatment does not provide a permanent solution for constipation. Moreover, if used excessively laxatives can have many side effects. These include mineral deficiencies, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Laxative abuse can even damage the nerves and muscles of the colon and this can end up in even severe constipation.
Homeopathy on the other hand provides safe and effective treatment for constipation. The best homeopathic medicine for constipation is constitutional medicine. Well-indicated medicine not only gives relief in the symptoms of constipation but it also improves the overall digestion process.
Commonly indicated homeopathic medicines for constipation are:-
- BRYONIA ALBA– It is indicated when there is constipation with dryness of mouth and rectum. There are large, hard and dry stools. There is a thirst for large quantities of water.
- CALCAREA CARBONICA– It is indicated when the person feels at ease when constipated and feels fatigued and discomfort on passing stools. The person is chilly yet sweats profusely, especially on the head and has craving for eggs.
- NUX VOMICA– It is indicated when constipation is the result of having spicy, fatty food or stimulants such as coffee and alcohol. The patient tends to have frequent but ineffectual urging for stools. There may be pain in the abdomen which gets better on passing stools.
- SILICEA– It is indicated for shy stools. During the passage, the stools tend to recede such that the person has to strain for a long without success. At times the stools have to be removed mechanically.
- SULPHUR– It is indicated for stools that are hard, knotty and dry or large and painful such that the pain may cause the child to desist on the first effort. There is a sensation of burning in the rectum along with redness.
Constipation is a chronic problem. Though it is not a serious health condition it can badly affect the quality of life. The symptoms of constipation are having fewer than three stools in a week or difficulty in passing stools or even both. If not timely treated constipation may end in complications such as piles, anal tears or rectal prolapse. One can get immediate relief from constipation by using tips such as having plenty of water, a high-fibre diet, exercise, yoga, colonic massage, laxatives or squatting to pass stools. Lifestyle and dietary changes are necessary to avoid constipation permanently. However, if such changes are not sufficient to avoid or treat constipation it is important to seek medical attention. Homoeopathy provides a safe and effective solution to treat chronic constipation.