How Water Eases Constipation

Constipation

Constipation: Causes and Prevention

Constipation can be considered mild or severe in people who do not have enough fluids including water and adequate fibre in their diets. Chronic constipation occurs when bowel movements are infrequent, primarily having less than three bowel movements a week. The underlying cause of constipation will determine the type of treatment that is given. Dehydration may be one of the causes which can be alleviated by drinking more water daily.

Constipation Symptoms
According to this Mayo Clinic article entitled, Constipation, constipation on occasion is common so drinking enough water, eating more fiber, and doing more exercise can help to alleviate the symptoms. However, chronic constipation, is more worrisome where it can interfere with daily life and cause uncomfortable symptoms. In the above article, the symptoms described include how often bowel movements are, how uncomfortable the elimination process is, the consistency of the stools, if you can empty your bowel efficiently, and if there is a blockage in the rectum preventing bowel movements. It’s important to see a doctor if there are changes in your bowel habits just to be on the safe side.

Additionally, in the WebMD article What is Constipation? other symptoms include belly bloating and straining to have a bowel movement. You may also feel the need to press on your stomach to ease elimination. The time between bowel movements differs with each person meaning some people have bowel movements three times a day whereas others have them just a few times a week.

Specific Causes of Constipation
The causes of constipation according to WebMD vary in people. Along with not having enough water or fiber in your meals, eating too many dairy products can also play a role. Not enough exercise, stressful situations which may cause you to hold back going to the washroom, and misuse of laxatives can also be causes. Then there are medications such as iron pills, antidepressants, strong drugs, and antacid medicines which may include calcium or aluminum that could cause constipation. Medical conditions such as eating disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pregnancy, nerve and muscle issues in your digestive system, neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, hypothryroidism, and colon cancer can also be causes of constipation.

The MayoClinic article Constipation also states that spinal cord injury, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy are also causes. Issues with the pelvic muscles can cause chronic constipation as well due to the pelvic muscles not relaxing. Pelvic muscles that have difficulty between relaxing and contraction is called dyssynergia. Weakened pelvic muscles can be a factor too. Other diseases which are hormonal related such as diabetes, an overactive parathyroid gland or what is known as hyperparathyroidism can be the result of constipation. Since hormones assist in balancing fluids in the body, these hormonal related diseases may lead to constipation.

The Mayo Clinic explains that there are other risk factors in being constipated such as little or no physical activity, having a mental health condition or eating disorder as stated above, being dehydrated, and being a woman due to hormonal changes, and an older adult because digestion changes with age.

Complications of Constipation
There are complications that may occur due to constipation that people should be aware of as the Mayo Clinic describes. For example, chronic constipation may cause hemorrhoids which occurs when straining to have a bowel movement. The veins in around the anus may swell and protrude. Torn skin in the anus is an anal fissure which can be quite painful. The impaction of fecal matter may cause a build up of hard stool that gets stuck in the intestines. Lastly, a rectal prolapse may occur when the intestine sticks out from the anus.

In the WebMD article What is Constipation?, it is suggested that calling your doctor is necessary when constipation is a new issue, if there is blood in your stools, weight loss without trying to lose weight, bowel movements accompanied by severe pain, constipation that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, and when the size, shape, and stool consistency has altered dramatically. Your doctor could recommend blood tests to check hormones, muscle test for your anus, stool movement tests through and out of your colon, and a colonoscopy to see if there are any blockages.

Constipation Prevention
The informative WebMD article What is Constipation? suggests that constipation can be prevented by drinking 1.5 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids per day unless you are on a fluid-restricted diet. The reason why water is so important is because along with fiber intake, they work together to keep you regular. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereal, and bread with whole grains is preferable. Although, if you’re gluten intolerant, choose a gluten-free bread. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine because it can be dehydrating. Cut back or eliminate dairy products since they can constipate some people. Exercise about 30 minutes a day whether it be walking, cycling, swimming or other cardio related activities. Most of all, don’t hold off going to the bathroom even if you’re under stress. Managing stress can be an important factor in keeping your body and emotions balanced.

Preventive measures taken will help anyone who has consistent issues with constipation get back on track. Not only does managing stress, diet, and exercise play an important role in leading a balanced life, but drinking enough water and staying hydrated are a big part of maintaining optimum health as well.

 

LINKS AND REFERENCES

WebMD
What is Constipation? 

Mayo Clinic
Constipation
 


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