Constipation is passage of small amounts of hard, dry bowel movements,
usually fewer than three times a week. People who are constipated may
find it difficult and painful to have a bowel movement. Other symptoms
of constipation include feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish.
What are Some Common Misconceptions About Constipation?
Many false beliefs exist concerning proper bowel
habits. One of these is that a bowel movement every day is necessary.
Another common fallacy is that wastes stored in the body are absorbed
and are dangerous to health or shorten the life span. These misconceptions
have led to a marked overuse and abuse of laxatives.
Many people think they are constipated when, in fact, their bowel movements
are regular. For example, some people believe they are constipated,
or irregular, if they do not have a bowel movement every day. However,
there is no right number of daily or weekly bowel movements. Normal may
be three times a day or three times a week depending on the person. In
addition, some people naturally have firmer stools than others. At one
time or another almost everyone gets constipated. Poor diet and lack of
exercise are usually the causes. In most cases, constipation is temporary
and not serious. Understanding causes, prevention, and treatment will
help most people find relief.
Who Gets Constipated?
women, children, and adults age 65 and over. Pregnant women also complain
of constipation, and it is a common problem following childbirth or surgery.
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the
United States, resulting in about 2 million annual visits to the doctor.
However, most people treat themselves without seeking medical
help, as is evident from the $725 million Americans spend on laxatives
Acording the American Society of dietist is necessary 20 to 35 Gr.
every day to mantain healhty.
Causes: Constipation may originate primarily from within
the colon and rectum or externally.
Constipation due to Functional Causes
Inadequate water intake
Low fiber dietary intake
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Failure to respond to urge to defecate
When people are sick their bowels may not work well. Diabetes, scleroderma,
neurological diseases like Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis
and other medical illnesses can affect the intestines and cause constipation.
Medicines can cause constipation. Pain medications, especially narcotics,
many psychotropic drugs, antacids that contain aluminum, antispasm drugs,
anticonvulsants (for epilepsy), tranquilizers, antidepressants, and iron
supplements can all cause constipation., Calcium-channel blockers, Inadequate
thyroid hormone supplementation (hypothyroidism)
Although laxatives are frequently used to treat constipation, chronic
laxative use becomes habituating and may lead to the development of a
dilated atonic laxative colon, which requires increasing laxative use
with little success.
Treatment Approach to Functional Constipation.
The treatment approach for each of these conditions is different.
In patients with normal-transit constipation, reassurance and education
may be sufficient. Further treatment may be determined by psychosocial
assessment. The clinical approach for slow-transit constipation usually
consists of dietary changes, including increased fluid and fiber intake,
stool softeners, and various laxatives. Some prokinetic agents may also
be considered, including prostaglandin analogs (misoprostol) and serotonin-receptor
agonists such as cisapride (under restricted use only) and tegaserod (recently
approved for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation).