Constipation, Treatment

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Constipation can simply be defined, is the irregular and difficult evacuation of faeces from the bowel when full. The causes are many and varied, therefore treatment is usually tailored in response to the underlying cause. However, there are a range of both medical and herbal treatments that have been found to be useful in relieving the symptoms of constipation.

Physical exercise is helpful because it stimulates the colon into activity, also the daily drinking of adequate amounts of water, 8 to 10 glasses a day is important because it helps to soften the stool.  Urges to open the bowels should not be ignore as not paying attention to the urge will  help to further compact the faeces. While in the toilet always allow sufficient time for the bowel to fully activate and expel its contents.

The type of food that is eaten can have a significant impact on the ability to pass faeces easily. The diet should ideally have a high fibre content such as fresh fruits and vegetables, with a limitation on the amount of highly processed foods that are eaten.

There are numerous over-the-counter preparations and herbal concoctions available for purchase.  These include stimulants which bring about rheumatic contraction within the intestines. Softeners help moistening the stool. Lubricants help the easy passage of stool through the colon. Enemas assist with the movement of fluids through the colon. Saline laxative such as milk of magnesia draws water into the colon to assist with the easier passage of the stool.  Fibre supplement provide bulk and is considered to be the safest evacuation method, these preparations although helpful, should be only be used as last resort.

Other treatments available include chloride channel activators which serve to increase the fluid content of the stool. 5-HT-4 agonists are used to help stimulate fluid secretion into the intestines, which in turn speeds up the passage of stool through the colon.

There may be an underlying cause which cannot be resolved simply by any of the above, such as constipation due to pelvic floor dysfunction.  The condition can only be resolved by retraining technique which aim to teach better coordination of the muscles used to evacuate the bowel.

Constipation during pregnancy is also common and may be corrected with some small adjustments to the fibre content in the diet by increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables plus, plenty of water and exercise, such as walking and swimming, both of which are considered good choices.

In cases where the constipation is chronic and fails to respond to lifestyle changes and medication, surgery is the ultimate resort, which involves the removal of part of the colon. In this procedure the segment causing the problem such as the anal sphincter or the rectum can be surgically removed.


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