Constipation is defined by the medical world as a problem of having a bowel movement fewer than three times per week. Constipation makes stools usually hard, dry, small in size, and difficult to eliminate. Generally, people who have this complaint find it painful to have a bowel movement and often experience straining, bloating, and the sensation of a full bowel.
Some people think they suffer from constipation even if they do not have a bowel movement every day. Normal elimination can be thrice a day or thrice in a week, depending on the health condition of a person.
Symptoms of constipation
Constipation is a condition in which bowel movements are infrequent or incomplete. Constipated persons have difficulty in passing feces or unusually have dry stool. To put it in a simple language, constipation is irregular and infrequent or difficult evacuation of the bowels. The squeezing motion of the muscles in the colon pushes the stool toward the rectum to pass it out.
Ayurvedic definition for constipation
Ayurveda medicinal system says that constipation has much to do with maintenance of normal health. Samshodhana (elimination of toxins from the body) is one of the most important parts of Ayurveda. Human body maintains its health by balancing vata (air element), pitta, and kapha, the three humors of the system. If there is variation in balancing one of these humors, it causes diseases in the body. This imbalance is caused mainly by poor digestion and accumulation of toxins in the weakened colon. This results in the accumulation of undigested food and the buildup of waste matter in colon which is the main cause of constipation.
Constipation can be recognized by many symptoms. They can be difficult bowel movement, dry bowel movement, painful bowel movement, pain in the abdominal area, nausea and vomiting sensation, uncomfortable feeling, unreasonable weight loss, feeling sluggish, loss of appetite and swelling in abdomen.
Reasons for constipation
1) Though there are many reasons for constipation it occurs mainly because of poor diet and accumulation of toxins in the colon.
2) Ayurveda says that constipation is caused by wrong bowel habits, mainly by the aggravation of vata though occasionally it can be caused by aggravation of pitta and kapha.
3) When the colon absorbs too much water, or if the muscles in the colon are contracting slowly or poorly the stool moves too slowly and loses more water.
4) Certain foods clog the digestion system, especially colon, and weaken proper muscle motility in the bowel area.
5) Stress and tension accumulate toxins and disrupt the body rhythms.
6) Poor lifestyle without proper exercises destabilizes the nervous system and causes poor elimination of waste from the body.
7) Improper eating habits including eating a lot of food, eating food which is difficult to digest such as non-vegetarian food, and not eating enough vegetables and salads can lead to constipation.
8) Irregular sleeping habits or emotional disturbances are other causes for the constipation.
9) Some people do not have regular habit for bowel movement. Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement will lead to constipation in course of time. Delay in having a bowel movement because they do not want to use toilets outside the home or such reasons may end up in constipation.
10) Children who do not want to interrupt their play or who may not like to undergo the stressful toilet training may postpone having a bowel movement. This is one the main reasons for constipation in children.