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How to prevent and treat constipation ?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Constipation is a common condition which involves having two or more of the following for at least 12 weeks:
- Infrequent passage of stools (<3/week).
- Straining.
- Passage of hard stools.
- Incomplete evacuation.
- Sensation of rectal block.

Constipation can cause the following symptoms:
Headaches, malaise, nausea and abdominal discomfort. 

What can be done to prevent and treat constipation ?
Before taking any medications or going to the doctor, you must do all of the following. They involve changing your lifestyle in order to have a healthy bowel movements.
  • Eat a normal fiber-containing diet. Foods that contain high fiber content include beans, bran, fruits and vegetables. The fiber content in the diet should be increased gradually.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water and fluids.
  • Bowel habit training: you should take enough time during defecation. The best time to move bowels is in the morning, after eating breakfast.
  • Regular exercise will help in relieving constipation.
  • Avoid drinking excess tea and coffee.
  • Get plenty of rest.

Special attention should be given to constipation and it would be considered "serious" in the following cases:
- Constipation occuring in an individual aged more than 50 years.
- If there is associated black tarry stools.
- If there is associated anemia or unintentional weight loss.

It is highly advisable that the above steps are done before consulting your doctor. 
"Do not take laxatives without medical supervision." 
If, inspite of following the above steps, constipation persists then you must consult a Gastro-enterologist.

2 common questions concerning constipation:

Q. Can depression cause constipation ?
Ans: Yes it can.

Q. Can alcohol cause constipation ?
Ans: Yes it can. Alcohol dehydrates the body and suppresses the normal peristaltic intestinal movements.

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