Did you ever think feeling angry and irritable could be a symptom of constipation? Well, it could. A terrible feeling of fullness and pressing sharp pains against the bladders can affect your mood.
Constipation can make you want everyone to leave you alone. All you want to do is sleep to escape the terrible pain you’re experiencing. It’s almost impossible to be constipated and keep a smile on your face.
Read on to learn how to alleviate constipation so you can be happier and most importantly healthy.
What is constipation?
Constipation is the number one gastrointestinal complaint, accounting for 2.5 million doctor visits a year. At some time or another, most people will experience constipation, but certain people have a higher tendency.
Women report having constipation more often than men. It is also common for a pregnant woman to have constipation due to the pressure put on the intestines by the uterus. The elderly also have higher cases of constipation.
When food passes through the digestive tract water and nutrients are absorbed into the body. What is left over is solid bodily waste or feces. Muscle contractions then push the stool through the intestines to the colon before exiting the body.
Sluggish colon contractions make the stool pass through too slowly, becoming dry, hard, and difficult to pass. The resulting abdominal pains and bloat are the constipated feces.
Do You Have Constipation?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you regularly have less than three bowel movements a week?
- Is passing stool difficult on a usual basis?
- Are your stools often hard and lumpy?
- Does your body feel blocked or like your bowels are not completely empty?
If you answer, “yes” to any of these questions then this guide is for you.
Causes of Constipation
Over four million Americans suffer from frequent constipation, so it is not surprising many do not know the causes of constipation. When food is digested water and nutrients are absorbed by the body forming waste products. The resulting stool naturally moves through the intestines.
However, if the colon’s muscle contractions are sluggish the stool becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass. Following are the main causes of constipation.
Not Enough Fiber
The most common cause of constipation is diets low in fiber. The typical fast-food diet high in cheese, eggs, meat, and fat wreaks havoc on digestion.
The body needs 20 to 35 grams of fiber every day to help it form a soft stool. High-fiber foods like beans, bran cereal, whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables must be incorporated into a healthy diet.
Not Enough Hydrating Fluids
Not drinking enough liquid or having too many beverages like soda pop, alcohol, and coffee cause dehydration. Liquids add fluid to the colon making stool softer and bowel movements easier. Instead, consistently drink hydrating drinks such as water and juice to avoid constipation.
Waiting to Have a Bowel Movement
Whether due to an aversion to public bathrooms, a busy schedule or plain laziness skipping number two’s can cause constipation. Ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom deadens your ability to know when you need to go. Listen to your body. When it is time to go it’s time to go.
Not Enough of Exercise
People who do not get enough exercise, such as the elderly or bedridden patients, become constipated. Exercise helps lessen the amount of time it takes for food to move through the large intestine so it does not dry out. Aerobic activity also naturally accelerates the heart rate, helping stimulate intestinal muscle contractions.
Different life and routine changes make constipation more prevalent. For example, when on vacation your normal diet and physical activity can become disrupted, causing constipation. Pregnant women frequently experience constipation due to hormone changes and uterine pressure on the intestine.
The elderly can have issues from slowing metabolisms, less intestinal activity, and muscle tone.
Over usage of Laxatives
Self-medicating laxatives are a leading cause of constipation. Initially, laxatives help bowel movements. But once the body becomes used to the extra help, it begins to rely on the medicine. After a while, a higher dose is needed to have a bowel movement causing the body to be reliant on laxatives or be constipated.
Over-The-Counter and Prescribed Medications
Besides laxatives, other medications cause constipation. Some of the main medications are:
- Narcotic pain meds
- Antacids with aluminum and calcium
- Blood pressure medication
- Antiparkinson drugs
- Iron supplements
By knowing the reasons for constipation you can take steps to avoid the uncomfortable, bloated, aches of constipation.
Constipation Symptoms You Should Know
So, what is really happening in your body when you experience constipation? When your dinner passes through the digestive tract nutrients and water is taken from the food.
What is left over is solid bodily waste or stool. Muscle contractions push the stool through the intestines toward the rectum. If the colon absorbs too much water or the muscle contractions are sluggish the stool passes through too slowly and becomes dry and hard. The old stool stops up or constipates your system.
Constipation affects everyone at one time or another. There are a few constipation symptoms to look out for when determining if there is a problem.
- Abdominal cramping
- Abdominal swelling
- Sensation of fullness
- Less appetite.
- Excessive gas
- Have fewer bowel movements than usual
Emotional stress and anxiety are mood changes that can take place.
Some symptoms of constipation are evidence of a complication. When normal pushing of the colon cannot expel the stool it is called fecal impaction. This impaction is fixed with a little mineral oil swallowed or via an enema.
A doctor can then simply remove the softened stool by hand. Bright red streaks on the stool are a sign of tears in the skin around the anus. This is a sign of hemorrhoids caused by straining to pass a hard stool.
Ice packs, warm tub baths, and creams can alleviate the problem. Straining can also result in a small amount of the intestinal lining pushing out of the anus opening. This condition called rectal prolapse often causes fear and embarrassment.
The prolapse can correct itself once constipation and straining stops. Chronic prolapse may require surgery to strengthen or repair the anal lining.
In most cases, constipation symptoms are a discomfort treated at home. However, the following symptoms with constipation it is an indication of a life-threatening condition.
- Black, bloody stool
- Passing out
- Changes of alertness
- Fever higher than 101
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- The abdomen feels hard
- Yellow eye whites
- Tinged to the skin
If any of the above constipation symptoms occur immediately call 911