A person who’s having difficulty of passing a stool would probably seek for constipation remedies.
Indeed, constipation is a disturbing bowel disorder. Imagine how your face gets distorted as you strain just to pass a hardened stool. Think of how many times you have come out from the comfort room still unrelieved from an unsuccessful bowel movement. You have been holding on to everything you can hold to obtain that power to push out that dirty little thing out from your anus. Finally, still your feces did not come out. Therefore you may conclude that you are in serious trouble. Definitely, you are constipated.
Constipation is defined as a bowel disorder by which a person defecates less than three times a week. However, there are other symptoms that must accompany the infrequent defecation in order to say that a person is experiencing constipation.
Common Constipation Symptoms
The following list enumerates the common constipation symptoms. However, these symptoms may be manifested differently from one individual to the other.
1. Decreased frequency of defecation
2. Hardened stool that requires prolonged straining to be completely eliminated
3. Having a hard time to start defecating
4. Nausea and vomiting
5. Abdominal distention
7. Poor appetite
8. halitosis or bad breath
Constipation remedies are suggested after constipation diagnosis is confirmed. There are several tests conducted by the physician to check for constipation.
First, the physician performs medical history checking. This involves recalling the symptoms experienced by the patient, its triggering factors and the duration by which patient is experiencing the symptoms. Likewise, the diet of the person is being recalled for the past two weeks to determine if the symptoms were caused by low dietary fiber intake.
The manifestation of constipation may also point out its cause. For instance, an individual who experiences painful defecation can be due to narrowing of the sphincter of the anus. The nerve endings are being compressed as the stool passes by resulting to pain.
Another cause of constipation that might be revealed during medical history taking is the use of medications whose side effect is constipation. Moreover, the constipation remedies depend on the cause and symptoms manifested by the patient.
After medical history taking, physical examination will be performed. The organ systems will be assessed through inspection, percussion, palpation and auscultation.
Abnormal findings related to the digestive system are significant in diagnosing constipation. Some of the important findings rely on the rectal examination and abdominal assessment.
Digital rectal examination is done by inserting one or two fingers into the anus to check tightness of the anal sphincter or presence of rectal mass that might have made defecation uneasy. Likewise, this test would reveal presence of stool in the rectum, which may indicate weakened or dysfunctional muscles in the rectum, anus or pelvic floor. While abdominal palpation may aid the physician to determine if the colons are filled with stool.
Furthermore, blood tests are necessary to identify hormonal causes of constipation. Findings such as increased parathyroid hormone level and hypothyroidism are significant contributory factor to constipation. High level of parathyroid hormone will increase the level of calcium in the blood. Calcium has binding effect that hardens the stool. Moreover, hypothyroidism will slow down the bowel activity. Both hormonal imbalances lead to constipation.
Another diagnostic exam conducted is abdominal x-ray. This will aid in the visualization of hardened and piled up stools in the colon.
Furthermore, barium enema also known as lower gastrointestinal series can also be used to determine constipation. This is done by filling in the rectum and colon with a liquid contrast called barium, which will be administered per anus. After which, x-ray is done to visualize the abnormalities in the anatomy of the colon as it is outlined by the barium contrast such as presence of mass or narrowing of any portion of the colon. Other more advanced tests that can be done are colonic transit studies, defecography, ano-rectal motility studies, MRI defecography and colonic motility studies.
The possible remedies for constipation include high fiber diet, laxative, enema, exercise, suppositories, biofeedback and surgery.
High fiber diet is the most common and safest way to relieve constipation. Fiber is an indigestible component of plants; thus consuming it would give additional bulk to the feces. Likewise, fiber softens the stool. The common sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Another common remedy for constipation is the use of laxative. These are substances or medications that are used to induce defecation or soften the stool for easy bowel emptying. Laxatives can be administered per orem (by mouth) or as suppositories (per rectum). The usual mode of action of most laxatives is retention of water in the colon to soften the stool, while other types will stimulate the colon for rapid bowel movement. The several types of laxatives are:
1. lubricant laxatives
2. emollient laxatives
3. hyperosmolar laxatives
4. saline laxatives
5. stimulant laxatives
Some laxatives can be availed over-the-counter. However, taking medications without physician’s supervision is not advisable because of the possibility of misuse or abuse of laxatives that may worsen constipation problem. Likewise, other serious conditions might result from administration of laxatives without prescription such as nerve damage in the colon.
Furthermore, enema can also be done as one of the constipation remedies. This is performed by administering certain solutions through the anus to distend the rectum. As a result, the colon will be stimulated to contract and the stool will be eliminated. This is best indicated in the presence of stool impaction. On the other hand, like laxatives, this kind of remedy should be done with medical supervision to avoid detrimental effects.
Moreover, exercise may also help in promoting good bowel movement. Although specific action of exercise in relieving constipation has not been clearly defined, it may be used as preventive measure as most people who live sedentarily are most likely observed to have constipation compared to people who are actively performing physical activities.
In addition, ano-rectal biofeedback training may also be helpful particularly to those patients whose constipation is caused by weakened or dysfunctional muscles in the rectum, anus and pelvic floor. This would aid the patient in gaining control over the weakened muscles and make these muscles function normally for effective defecation.
Lastly, surgical removal of a portion of the colon, which is dysfunctional due to nerve damage, can be performed as one of the constipation remedies. This is usually the last resort to constipation problems depending on the cause of the bowel disorder as well.
Other Digestive System Diseases, Symptoms and Diagnosis