Constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints in women. The normal frequency of bowel movements varies widely from person to person, from once or more a day to three times a week. In general, however, you are likely constipated if you pass a hard, dry stool less than three times a week.
Constipation can also make you feel bloated and uncomfortable and you may find yourself straining during bowel movements.
Although constipation can affect anyone, it’s more common in women and in people over age 65. It also tends to occur during pregnancy, after childbirth or surgery, with certain medications such as opioid pain relievers, and with some conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
People get constipated when they do not maintain healthy diet and nutrition. When you eat excessive fried foods, fast food, meats, or you don’t consume enough water, you will find yourself more prone to being constipated.
Some medications can cause the constipation. The most common offending medications include – Narcotic pain medications such as codeine (for example, Tylenol #3), oxycodone (for example, Percocet), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid); Antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and imipramine (Tofranil); Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol); Iron supplements; Calcium channel blocking drugs such as diltiazem (Cardizem) and nifedipine (Procardia); Aluminum-containing antacids such as Amphojel and Basaljel and some other medications ( ibuprofen, fluoxetine/Prozac).
Habits. Bowel movements are under voluntary control. This means that the normal urge people feel when they need to have a bowel movement can be suppressed. Although occasionally it is appropriate to suppress an urge to defecate (for example, when a bathroom is not available), doing this too frequently can lead to a disappearance of urges and result in constipation.
Diet. Fiber is important in maintaining a soft, bulky stool. Diets that are low in fiber can, therefore, cause constipation. The best natural sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Laxatives. One suspected cause of severe constipation is the over-use of stimulant laxatives [for example, senna (Senokot), castor oil, and certain herbs]. An association has been shown between the chronic use of stimulant laxatives and damage to the nerves and muscles of the colon, and it is believed by some that the damage is responsible for the constipation. It is not clear, however, whether the laxatives have caused the damage or whether the damage existed prior to the use of laxatives and, indeed, has caused the laxatives to be used. Nevertheless, because of the possibility that stimulant laxatives can damage the colon, most experts recommend that stimulant laxatives be used as a last resort after non-stimulant treatments have failed.
Hormonal disorders. 1) Too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) and too much parathyroid hormone (by raising the calcium levels in the blood) can cause constipation; 2) At the time of a woman’s menstrual periods, estrogen and progesterone levels are high and may cause constipation; 3) High levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy also can cause constipation.
Diseases that affect the colon. There are many diseases that can affect the function of the muscles and/or nerves of the colon. These include diabetes, scleroderma, intestinal pseudo-obstruction, Hirschsprung’s disease, and Chagas disease. Cancer or narrowing (stricture) of the colon that blocks the colon likewise can cause a decrease in the flow of stool.
Central nervous system diseases. A few diseases of the brain and spinal cord may cause constipation, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries.
Colonic inertia. Colonic inertia is a condition in which the nerves and/or muscles of the colon do not work normally. As a result, the contents of the colon are not propelled through the colon normally. The cause of colonic inertia is unclear. In some cases, the muscles or nerves of the colon are diseased. Colonic inertia also may be the result of the chronic use of stimulant laxatives as described above.
Pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction (also known as outlet obstruction or outlet delay) refers to a condition in which the muscles of the lower pelvis that surround the rectum (the pelvic floor muscles) do not work normally. These muscles are critical for defecation (bowel movement). It is not known why these muscles fail to work properly in some people, but they can make the passage of stools difficult even when everything else is normal.
You may be constipated if you are experiencing the following signs of constipation:
Lack of bowel movements
Heavy feeling in the stomach
Your tongue is coated in mucus
Loss of appetite
Pain in the lower legs
Useful Practical Advices for Constipation (from experienced people)
Two tablespoons of molasses before going to sleep is a good remedy for treating constipation. It can be added to glass of milk or fruit juice or prune juice if you like.
Cabbage juice can be beneficial in treating constipation – half cup cabbage juice two times a day.
Immerse 10-14 dry grapes without seeds in milk and heat the milk till it boils. Strain the milk. While you are drinking the milk, chew the grapes side by side.
Immerse 7-10 grams Spiegel seeds in 200 grams of warm milk; add sugar to it and drink it before going to sleep.
Soak two 2 teaspoons of Spiegel seeds in water for about 6 hours. Add equal amount of sugar to the mixture. Take this mixture before going to bed.
Keep water in a copper vessel overnight. Have this water first thing in the morning in an empty stomach.
In ½ glass water, mix ¼ tsp of Epsom salt. Drink this combination to cure constipation.
Take ½ cup of orange juice, add equal amount of olive oil. Drink this to get rid of constipation.
Mix equal quantities of carrot juice and spinach juice in a glass. It should be taken before going to bed.
A before meal technique would be to have One teaspoon of linseed with water can bring lubrication required for constipation.
Consuming hot water with sour lime juice and half a teaspoon of salt added to it would be beneficial in treating constipation.
Orange juice taken in the morning on empty stomach would be favorable in treating constipation.
Fennel seeds will help to cure the digestive problem. In a glass of lukewarm water add a few fennel seeds. Drink this mixture every night before going to bed.
In case of chronic or severe constipation – have figs dipped in water and consume it in large quantities in the morning.
One guava a day in the early morning can keep constipation away.
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.