Constipation – Causes & Home Remedies

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US department of Health & Human Services defines constipation as less than three bowel movements in a week. However, it is always better to have a bowel movement daily preferably in morning.

It becomes very important to know causes and some home remedies for constipation as it makes a person prone to many health problems likehe morrhoids, Fissure-in-Ano, Fistula-in-Ano etc.

Signs of constipation:

  • Hard, dry, or lumpy stool
  • Difficulty in passing stool
  • Feeling of incomplete bowel movement after passing stool
  • Painful passage of stool
  • Need for straining to pass stool
  • Passing less stool than usual
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Bloated abdomen

Causes of constipation:

  • Lack of fibres in diet: people with high intake of fibres are less likely to suffer from constipation.
  • Deficient fluid intake: deficiency of fluids makes stool hard
  • Slow movement of stool in large intestine: when stool passes too slow in large intestine; relatively large amount of water gets absorbed from it making the stool harder
  • Physical inactivity: low level of physical activity may lead to constipation.
  • Medication: certain medicines like opioid painkillers, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, antacids, diuretics iron supplements etc. increase the risk of constipation.
  • Ageing: as people age; prevalence of constipation increases.
  • Change in routine: when there is a change in daily routine (specially sleeping pattern) like when you are travelling there are more chances for constipation
  • Overuse of laxatives: certain laxatives are habit forming. So, if a fellow uses laxatives over a long time; he may suffer from constipation
  • Delaying the urge for defecation: it will lead to long stay of faeces in the rectum and hardening of stool.
  • Colorectal problems: constipation could be a primary symptom of colorectal cancer.
  • Other conditions: constipation could be suggestive for other health problems like hypothyroidism etc.

Complication of constipation:

Constipation is not life threatening but it might be suggestive of some more serious underlying pathology like colorectal cancer etc.

Some common complications of constipation include:

  • Anal fissure i.e., a tear in anal canal which makes bowel movement very painful
  • Haemorrhoids: swollen and inflamed blood vessels of anus
  • Rectal bleeding which might be few drops to profuse bleeding making a fellow anaemic.
  • Fecolith i.e., impaction of faeces in rectum and anus leading to a mechanical obstruction.
  • Lethargy and reduced quality of life

Alarming sign: Sudden onset of obstipation i.e., inability to pass faeces as well as flatus is a medical emergency as it may be because of blockage in intestine and need urgent medical attention.

Home remedies for constipation:

  • Increase Fiber intake: high fibrous diet especially rich in indigestible fibers is very beneficial to relieve constipation.
  • Increase liquid intake: liquid intake in any form should be encouraged. Liquid content in faeces makes it soft and easy to move in intestine.
  • Warm milk in night: warm milk added with some sugar before going to bed gives soft consistency to stool.
  • Warm water in morning:  1-2 glasses of warm water activates intestine and help in easy bowel movement.
  • Use of Haritaki: with its mild laxative property; Haritaki is very beneficial relieving constipation.
    • Haritaki with jaggery: is taken before meal to improve digestion and help relieving constipation.
    • Haritaki/ Triphala with buttermilk: In the same way, Haritaki/ Triphala powder could be taken with buttermilk with similar efficacy to relieve constipation.
  • Takra or Buttermilk: Takra is compared with nectar for its health benefits on human body. It improves the digestive system and helps relieving constipation.
  • Shunthi with jaggery: Like the Haritaki powder Shunthi powder taken with jaggery is also effective in easing constipation.
  • Isabgol/ Psyllium husk: is a very good source of indigestible fibers. It helps retaining good amount of water in faeces and relieves constipation.
  • Don’t delay: suppressing urge for defecation allows faces to harden so never postpone going for defecation.
  • Active lifestyle: sedentary lifestyle is another causative factor for constipation so active lifestyle helps getting rid of constipation.
  • Physical exercise: Do regular exercise like walking, running, yoga etc.

If even after taking these measures you are still suffering from constipation; you need to consult a doctor..

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