Constipation is a condition that affects approximately 2 percent of the population in the United States. Women and elderly people are more likely to suffer from this condition, although it can affect anyone at any time regardless of their age or sex.
What is Constipation
Constipation occurs when a person’s bowel and digestive function becomes sluggish, resulting in less frequent or harder to pass stools. It can also occur when the colon absorbs too much water from food causing the stool to become dry and hard. Normal bowel movement frequency ranges from person to person. Constipation is generally described as when an individual has not had a bowel movement within three days.
Symptoms of constipation include:
- Passages of small or dry and hard stools
- Pain while passing stool
- Abdominal swelling and or pain
- Feeling of incomplete bowel movements
- Having fewer than two bowel movements per week
The passing of dry and hard stools can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. In some cases, constipation can signify an underlying bowel obstruction. Severe forms of constipation can lead to the development of obstipation, which is an inability to pass gas or feces.
Causes of Constipation
When one feels the urge to defecate but is unable to due to extreme difficulty or discomfort, constipation is often the culprit.
Common causes include:
- Diet that is low in fiber
- Food allergies
- Old age
- Underlying Thyroid issues
- Lack of probiotics
- Dehydration or insufficient water intake
- Holding stools or resisting the urge to defecate
- Side effect of certain medications
- Excessive dairy consumption
- Excessive iron in one’s diet
- Certain medical conditions
- Lack of exercise or physical activity
Not all people who exhibit these characteristics will suffer from constipation. People who suffer from this condition for two or more weeks should seek out medical attention as soon as possible.
Most people that suffer from periodic bouts of constipation do not need to seek out medical treatment because it often resolves on its own. However, sometimes constipation doesn’t resolve on its own. If your constipation is not related to a medical condition, you may be able to benefit from the use of alternative treatments.
Common natural and alternative treatments include:
- Allowing sufficient time to pass stool. Many people do not spend enough time trying to evacuate their stools, and mistakenly assume that they are constipated if an expected bowel movement does not occur when they want.
- Keeping a food diary. Many cases of constipation involve food allergies and sensitivities. Keeping a food diary makes it easier to identify the offending culprit(s). This diary should contain information on stool appearance and other stool characteristics so that care providers can identify the cause and recommend the right course of treatment.
- Increasing the amount of daily physical activity or exercise. The digestive system and colon work hand in hand. A lack of exercise and or physical activity can reduce the efficiency of these systems and delay the frequency of bowel movements, leading to constipation. Increasing exercise and physical activity help to keep the muscles in the digestive system and colon active to regulate the frequency of bowel movements.
- Diet and nutrition counseling. A healthy diet is crucial to achieving and maintaining regularity. A nutritionist can identify which nutrients, supplements, minerals, and vitamins are lacking in one’s diet and provide treatment and guidance to help restore optimal health and bowel function.
- Biofeedback therapy is an alternative to conventional medicine in which people whose constipation stems from poor pelvic muscles. With biofeedback, individuals learn to control their pelvic muscles to improve their bowel movement habits.
- Acupressure can relieve constipation by stimulating different pressure points on the body. These pressure points (meridians) help to direct the flow of energy within the body and promote detoxification and healing.
- Hydrotherapy is an alternative to using chemical laden enemas and laxatives to treat constipation. During the process, a hydrotherapist gently massages the abdomen, while flushing the entire colon with purified water to enhance the cleaning action of the treatment and soothe the muscles of the colon to restore regular bowel function and health.
Maintaining regularity is important to achieving optimum health. Without it, toxins will accumulate and circulate inside of your body, destroying your health. If you are suffering from constipation that does not respond to conventional methods of treatment, Health for Life can help. Give us a call at (602)-368-9211 to schedule an appointment today.