Constipation is the state of inability to pass stools. It may be absolute when one is not able to pass stool at all or relative when stools are passed with difficulty. It is a problem due to which many people suffer but feel embarrassed to talk about it.
Though any individual can be affected but it is an occupational hazard of desk workers. Sitting for long hours continuously makes them more prone to develop it.
Constipation is a problem which gives rise to so many other health related problems that one feels sick and distressed all the time. It is a problem as old as mankind itself. I was reading somewhere that in medieval times, when phenolphthalein was newly introduced as a laxative, it was considered fashionable to drink the pink syrup(color of phenolphthalein) by the nobility.
One suffering from constipation does not realize that the abdominal pain, bodyache, nausea, burning pain in chest, lethargy, eructation, e.t.c., all other symptoms he is experiencing are because of the bowels not getting emptied at all or inadequately. In majority of cases, it occurs due to life style factors which can be corrected very well. People seek medical treatment only when they start feeling very sick. Diseases like diabetes mellitus, tuberculosis of the intestines, e.t.c., can cause constipation in the affected individual. Spinal diseases also cause constipation.
Few cases of acute or sub acute constipation occur due to obstruction somewhere in the intestines. This can occur due to some chronic infection, inflammation or tumor. These cases are surgical emergencies and the patient has to be operated immediately, otherwise it can be fatal.
Antacids like aluminium hydroxide tablets, drugs like buscopan used for abdominal pain, iron syrups and tablets, are some of the drugs which can produce constipation as a side effect. Constipation produced due to a disease of the intestines or due to drugs reverses completely after the cause is removed. But in all other cases, constipation is produced due to a functional abnormality of bowels. Defective diet lacking in fiber and water makes the intestines sluggish. If this is not corrected in time, it augments progressively. Lack of physical exercise also contributes to it. As the intestines become more and more lethargic, constipation also increases, becoming more troublesome over time.
People affected, spend their valuable time and money in buying sure shot indigenous medicines and visiting hospitals for something which they can rectify themselves by correcting their food habits. People become sick due to not evacuating their bowels regularly. Then they take to the bed complaining of abdominal pain, discomfort, nausea, e.t.c. In fact what is needed is, drinking plenty of water and moving around actively to activate the bowels for emptying.
Constipation can occur in young and old alike. With advancing age, intestinal motility tends to become slow, causing constipation in elderly people. The young suffer from it due to defective life styles and stress.
Mental stress is yet another factor which causes and maintains constipation.
But if somebody starts getting this problem from a young age and does not try to correct his diet and life style, as he grows older, the problem will increase and become more troublesome because the bowels will get more sluggish over time. Intake of high carbohydrate foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, also aggravate constipation as their fiber content is negligible. Fresh green vegetables and fruits like pine apple and citrus fruits help in correcting constipation. Papaya is very useful in this regard as it has fiber and naturally occurring digestive enzymes.
Eating whole wheat bread is more advan-tageous as compared to bread made of refined white flour. It is more nutritious as compared to white bread and also has a high fiber content which prevents constipation.
Drinking plenty of water ensures good movement of bowels and helps to control constipation. One suffering from constipation should start taking hot water in the night before sleeping to cleanse the bowels in morning. Hot water acts as a laxative. Many persons drink 1-2 glasses of hot water first thing in the morning and then go for a brisk morning walk or do some other physical exercise. This helps to cleanse the bowels regularly. Thus, once bowels become active, then after some time a person can empty them regularly without any problem or assistance.
Regular physical exercise is beneficial for overall general health of the body and also constipation. There are specific exercises in yoga which activate and strengthen the bowels.
A person needs to be patient after adopting these measures. The results will come surely but after some time.
The intestines which have become sluggish over years take time to restore their normal functions.
One should not become dependant on laxative drugs for relieving constipation. These drugs are habit forming. That is after some time of use the body becomes resistant to their effect and their dose has to increase. As one increases the dose there is risk of dilatation of the large intestine, which aggravates constipation.
Constipation is a correctable problem but causes much sickness and suffering in people due to ignorance about it. Rarely, in extreme cases, death can also occur due to total paralysis of bowel movements.
It is wise to prevent constipation rather than seeking treatment. Once it is improved by correct diet and physical activity, there is usually no relapse.