Constipation

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Constipation is a common digestive disorder in which a person is having difficulty in passing the stool. During the period of constipation the person may have three or less than three bowel movements in a week. Constipation is also characterized by painful defecation and it can affect people of all age groups. The severity of the disorder varies from individual to individual. Some people experience constipation for a short period of time which is common but in some cases constipation may be long term (chronic) which causes abdominal pain and discomfort.

Causes:

The cause of constipation is sometimes difficult to identify because number of factors are there which contribute in its occurrence. The causes may be;

  • Withholding the stool voluntarily can cause the stool to stay in colon for a long time and water is reabsorbed from the colon and stool becomes dry and very hard which cause painful defecation.
  • Drinking less water
  • Diet low in fibers is also a common reason of constipation.
  • Certain medications cause constipation as a side effect e.g. Anti depressants, Anti convulsants, Antacids and most commonly opoids.
  • Certain abnormalities of endocrine glands may also contribute to constipation e.g. Hypothyroidism, hypercalcemia, diabetes mellitus and celiac disease.
  • Lack of exercise and physical activity
  • Stress and anxiety can also be a factor.

Signs and symptoms:

The symptoms of constipation may include;

  • Hard and lumpy stool which cause painful defecation
  • Three or less than three stools a week
  • Blood in stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling of abdomen
  • Vomiting

Complications:

Fecal impaction which cause the stool to become so hard and it cannot be expelled by action of normal pushing.

Anal fissures are tears in anus which are usually small in size and minor surgery is required to overcome this problem.

Hemorrhoids which are commonly known as piles are inflammation and swelling of the anal veins which cause rectal bleeding.

When there is straining in movements of bowel rectal prolapse may occur and there is leakage of the mucus from the anus.

Prevention:

It is easy to prevent the constipation than to treat it. Modifying life style by taking food rich in fibers like bran, apple, pear and cereals can help. Exercise and sufficient fluid intake can also relief constipation.

Treatment:

Usually the fluid intake and eating fiber rich foods is first line treatment of constipation.

Oral laxatives like milk of magnesia can also be given to expel the stool out of the body.

Chloride channel activators can also be used which increases the fluid contents in the GIT.

Enemas are also used to relief constipation in which defecation occurs by means of mechanical stimulation.

In anorectal blockage surgery can also be done.

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