Difficulty evacuating the bowels, or an inability to produce more than three complete bowel movements per week, are identified as constipation. When constipation persists for more than three weeks, it’s referred to as chronic constipation. Constipation is common among adults and is not uncommon among children; a variety of treatments are available, from over-the-counter remedies to prescription drugs.
Even before treating constipation, it is important to consider medical history to determine whether some treatments are even worth trying. A myriad of conditions affect colon health. Some, like pregnancy, cure themselves over time. Others, including diabetes, spinal cord lesions, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease, require specific solutions. What these ailments have in common – the thing that causes the association with constipation – is an affect upon organs that impedes the latter stages of digestion.
Bloating is associated with constipation because both stem from the same causes. When someone has had a visibly bloated abdomen for three days in one month, for three consecutive months, the condition is termed bloating. Bloating can be described as an inability to process gaseous waste, whereas constipation is an inability to process solid waste. There are two types of this condition; intermittent is bloating as described, with multiple separate occasions of visible gas retention, while continuous is a constant state, often related to obesity or the swollen state of an organ in the torso.
Fiber vs. drug treatments
Increased dietary fiber is the first option to pursue to relieve constipation. If fiber has limited or no success at improving digestion, other causes should be considered. Constipation is a regular side effect of quite a few medications, both over-the-counter and prescription. Some supplements, especially those with iron in them, contribute to constipation, and many mind-altering drugs – antidepressants and antipsychotics – carry the side effect of constipation. To determine whether constipation is caused by medication, figure out when you started taking the medication and how that may or may not correspond with the onset of constipation.
Official determination of cause
When self-diagnosis and treatment fails, and an increase in dietary fiber doesn’t seem to work, it’s necessary to consult a doctor, who may recommend additional steps. Patients should be prepared for the normal physician exam, involving stethoscopes, thermometers, scales, etc., but in addition, patients need to prep themselves for giving stool samples, undergoing a digital rectal examination, and, sometimes, undergoing a colonoscopy. Following these steps of examination should offer the constipation sufferer a definitive diagnosis and therefore present a solution.
So, while the additional portions of the examination that correspond with symptoms of constipation sound intimidating, these procedures are assuredly worthwhile.
Constipation and bloating are undeniably uncomfortable afflictions, and can be debilitating when chronic. It can interfere with daily life, self-esteem, body image, and anxiety. The causes are as varied as the sufferers themselves; most if not all people will experience constipation at least once in their lives. Without question, diet is the most important factor, but other issues complicate the digestive system as well.