Symptoms

Constipation – causes, treatment

Constipation

Constipation (also known as constipation ) is a well  known and common symptom. Difficult bowel movements are the main characteristic of constipation. Bowel movements are usually delayed or irregular, and their consistency is usually hard or hardened.

What is constipation?

A constipation is usually not actually a complete blockage of the gastrointestinal tract. Rather, the feeling of constipation is subjective for those affected, since normal bowel movements are difficult, delayed or hardened. It can also cause pain when you have a bowel movement.

However, a pathological constipation is present if the following criteria are met repeatedly over a longer period of time: 1. The stool is hard or very hard. 2. The stool is passed only with strong and painful straining. 3. The sufferer feels that not everything has been eliminated. 4. In order to completely empty the entire chair, the fingers or hands must be used to help. 5. The sufferer may defecate less than three times a week. 6. The patient feels as if the bowel or anus is closed or blocked.

Along with stomach pain , constipation is one of the most common symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract. However, the majority of older women suffer from constipation.

causes

The most common cause of constipation is an unbalanced and unhealthy diet. Stress and medication can also affect digestion and lead to uncomfortable constipation. Functional constipation is usually harmless and goes away in a few days. However, prolonged constipation can also be the cause of another disease.

Physiologically, there are several causes of constipation. Functional disorders of the intestine are primarily responsible for constipation. For example, the movement of stool in the colon may be slowed down. Here the intestines need much more time to transport the stool to the rectum.

The digestive residues arriving from the small intestine then accumulate and water is withdrawn from the stool over time. This is also the main reason for the hard and firm stool, which can then also lead to pain.

If the large intestine works normally and indigestion still occurs, the cause can be a voiding disorder in which the rectum can be blocked. Both causes just mentioned are mostly harmless and usually disappear quickly.

However, as noted earlier, the main causes of constipation are a low-fiber diet and lack of exercise. Sometimes suppressed stool due to stress or lack of time (e.g. when traveling) also leads to constipation.

diseases with this symptom

complications

Constipation can bring various complications if it occurs as part of a serious underlying condition or develops into a chronic complaint with the typical accompanying symptoms. Chronic constipation can lead to the formation of hardened balls of feces (Skybala), often accompanied by an anal fissure and hemorrhoids .

In the course of this, various symptoms such as a rectal prolapse or a megacolon can form. Basically, constipation increases the risk of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which usually leads to diarrhea and pain, but depending on the patient’s constitution can also lead to intestinal obstruction. In high-risk patients, i.e. bedridden and elderly people as well as patients after an operation, constipation often leads to an intestinal blockage.

Complications range from nausea and vomiting to gastric perforation. If left untreated, mechanical ileus can lead to patient death. Chronic constipation can also contribute to the development of fecal incontinence or encopresis and thus cause permanent limitations in everyday life. Treating constipation can cause diarrhea and stomach pain ; if an operation is necessary, further complications can result.

When should you go to the doctor?

In any case, a doctor should be consulted in the event of a constipation if there is a feeling that it will not go away on its own. The usual defecation behavior is decisive here. If you’re used to having daily bowel movements, constipation for about a week is far more uncomfortable than for someone who only has a bowel movement every two to three days.

If laxatives don’t help either and the constipation doesn’t go away on its own within about ten days, it’s advisable to see a doctor. Finally, further stressing the digestive tract by using other laxatives or unproven home remedies is not advisable in the case of a constipation that cannot be resolved.

However, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible in the event of constipation lasting several days in combination with other symptoms. Fever, severe nausea, misery, pain and discoloration of the skin are warning signs.

If constipation is already known in your own body and usually resolves itself, the cause for it can be found in your lifestyle – especially in your diet – and eliminated.

Treatment & Therapy

As a rule, no doctor needs to be consulted for constipation. Natural or herbal laxatives are often sufficient from the pharmacy . However, if the constipation persists and causes pain, medical treatment is advisable. If the doctor then finds a disease that can be considered as the cause, this should be treated first. If medication is the cause, it should be discontinued if possible.

For normal constipation, treatment should be primarily through dietary changes. Products rich in fiber in particular have a swelling effect and also increase the water content of the stool. Whole grain products, fruits and vegetables are suitable for this. In addition, you should drink a lot. Chocolate, white bread, rolls, red wine and black tea should be avoided.

Soaked flaxseed in water, which should then be consumed, has also proven to be helpful for constipation. Laxatives should only be used in consultation with a doctor as they can cause gas and upset stomach.

Outlook & Forecast

In the case of constipation, the prognosis depends on the cause and the severity of the constipation. Diet-related constipation promises a positive prognosis. With a balanced diet , sufficient fluid intake and a lot of exercise, the bowel movements can usually regulate themselves again. In the case of constipation caused by medication, it is usually sufficient to adjust or stop the medication until the symptoms have subsided. Laxatives and other preparations that eliminate the symptoms of constipation can also be taken under the supervision of the family doctor.

If the constipation is caused by another disease, the prognosis depends on the course of the underlying disease. Concomitant therapies can alleviate the symptoms of constipation, but cannot completely eliminate them. Accompanying diseases such as faecal stones often also occur , which must be treated separately. Chronic gastrointestinal diseases also worsen the prospect of a speedy recovery.

In general, however, if a doctor is consulted immediately if constipation is suspected, the chances of recovery are good. If complications have already developed, the constipation may need to be treated surgically. Preventive measures can improve intestinal behavior in the long term and significantly improve the prognosis in the event of constipation.

prevention

Above all, a high-fiber diet and plenty of exercise prevent constipation. Avoid white flour products, chocolate and red wine. Eat more raw foods and whole grains. Do more sport in the fresh air or exercise your body by gardening.

↳ More information: Home remedies for constipation

Home remedies & herbs

  • Buckthorn bark is effective for liver and gallbladder diseases and helps against constipation.

You can do that yourself

Constipation can burden everyday life with unpleasant side effects such as abdominal pain or flatulence. However, there are many ways to relieve these symptoms yourself that can be easily implemented in everyday life and can eliminate constipation. One important factor is diet .

Digestive foods that are high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products, can help relieve constipation. Plums , dried figs or grapes are particularly effective . Recommended vegetables for constipation include spinach , cabbage, peas , and beans . High-fat foods should be avoided during constipation. This has a very long residence time in the stomach and also makes you limp. However, a teaspoon of flax or olive oil in the morning has a positive effect and can boost digestion. In addition, a sufficientHydration important. The less liquid that is absorbed, the harder the stool is.

For good digestion, it is important that enough exercise is integrated into everyday life. Lack of exercise makes the gastrointestinal tract sluggish. Therefore, exercise should be done, especially if you are constipated, to get your intestines going. Abdominal massages can also help with constipation. You can do this yourself at any time. It is recommended to do clockwise circular hand movements around the navel. This massage can take place several times a day and should last about 10 minutes.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.