Constipation refers to an abnormal infrequency or irregularity of defecation, abnormal hardening of stools that makes their passage difficult and sometimes painful, decrease in stool volume, or prolonged retention of stool in the rectum.
It may be a symptom of underlying disorder, especially if it is of recent onset in adult over 40.
What are the causes?
It can be caused by;
√ Rectal or anal disorders
√ Metabolic, neurologic, and neuromuscular conditions
√ Endocrine disorders
√ Lead poisoning
√ Connective tissue disorders; and a variety of disease conditions.
Other causes may include weakness, immobility, debility, fatigue, and inability to increase intra-abdominal pressure to pass stools.
Constipation develops when people do not take the time or ignore the urge to defecate or as the result of dietary habits (low consumption of fiber and inadequate fluid intake)
– Lack of regular exercise, and a stress-filled life.
Perceived constipation is a subjective problem that occurs when an individual’s bowel elimination pattern is not consistent with what he or she perceives as normal. Chronic (prolonged) laxative use contributes to this problem.
∆ The most common cause of constipation in developed countries is insufficient fibre in the diet.
Signs and Symptoms
• Fewer than three bowel movements per week, abdominal distention, and pain and pressure
• Decreased appetite, headache, fatigue, indigestion, sensation of incomplete emptying
• Straining at stool; elimination of small volume of hard, dry stool
• Complications such as hypertension, hemorrhoids and fissures, fecal impaction, and megacolon.
Treatment should target the underlying cause of constipation and aim to prevent recurrence, including;
• Increased fiber and fluid intake, and judicious use of laxatives.
• Discontinue laxative abuse; exercise routine to strengthen abdominal muscles.
• If laxative is necessary, use bulk-forming agents, saline and osmotic agents, lubricants, stimulants, or fecal softeners.
• Establish regular toilet routine
• Acting on any urge to move the bowel
∆ Consult your healthcare provider for expert management even after the aforementioned measures do not work.