Constipation, like diarrhea, is a symptom, not a disease. Put simply, the world means delayed, and sometimes difficult passage of stools. Some individuals swear they are constipated if they move their bowels less than twice a day. Others define constipation as passing stool less than twice a week. What matters is what is normal for each individual.
Hypothyroidism, psychiatric illness, blockage duet to a growth – each can cause constipation. Even the use of certain medications can cause the troublesome and uncomfortably slow passage of waste materials through the colon.
Of the different types of constipation, rectal constipation is the most common. The most effective prevention is the prompt response to the urge of a bowel movement. A high-fiber diet may help by producing soft stools. Drinking six to eight glasses a day and eating such natural laxatives as prunes can also be helpful in forestalling constipation.
Enemas are recommended to relive constipation these days but not as often as they used to be. Instead doctors now recommend bulk agents such as fiber and glycerine suppositories. The latter work by drawing fluid from nearby tissues into the colon is to make stools become larger and easier to pass.
But enemas still have their use. Elderly people and babies may need help when their bowels are not working properly. Before surgery, the bowel must be emptied so that it does not occupy excessive abdominal space. An enema is sometimes required before pregnant woman’s labor begins, so that faeces will not be expelled with the baby, although this practice is also declining. And a barium enema helps to diagnose problems of the digestive tract.
High-fiber diet can best help constipation and even the digestive system. Fiber (frequently also called roughage) is a nonnutritous material found in food which is not broken down by the enzymes in the digestive tract. Fiber was once thought to have no food values as such but is now recognized to be an important constituent in the diet. High-fiber diets are sometimes useful in controlling constipation and diarrhea, and are also prescribed for persons with diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Food fibers are divided into two groups: nonabsorbent and absorbent. Nonabsorbent fibers increase the bulk and liquid content to the faeces, making them softer and easier to pass through the intestines. This type of fiber may decrease the risk of colon cancer because it reduces the absorption of cancer-causing agents and reduces the amount of time these agents remain in the digestive system. Because the passage of faeces is easier, less strain is placed on the intestines, diminishing the risk of developing haemorrhoids. Nonabsorbent fibers can be found in whole grains, legumes and in many types of fruits and vegetables.
Absorbent fibers absorb water during the passage through the stomach and intestine. They may curb the appetite by producing a feeling of fullness and also slow the absorption of food by the digestive tract. In this way, it helps reduces constipation and reduces cholesterol levels, and the risk of heart disease lowered. These fibers may be found in oats, legumes and a variety of fruits and vegetables. When switching to a high-fiber diet, it is important to increase the consumption of the fiber gradually – to minimize flatulence and bloating – and to drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation. If certain fibrous foods are difficult to digest, they should be eliminated from the diet and replaced by others.