People who experience less than three bowel movements in a week scientifically are suffering from constipation. Different types of people have different types of bowel movements. Several people have bowel movements many times in a single day, while others have just once or thrice a week. Bowel movements are different for each person and are considered normal unless they interfere with daily health processes.
The main features that define constipation are given below:
- The concerned person can feel fullness in his/her bowels.
- The movement in the bowels can be painful.
- The person may find difficulty in passing the stools.
- The stool which is passed can be dry or hard depending upon that specific situation.
Constipation is generally a very common problem. Anybody who has made changes in their diet or routine can face this problem. The most apparent reason for constipation is a change in the daily routine or changes in dietary intake. People who take an inadequate amount of fibres have higher chances of suffering from constipation.
Medical help is generally not recommended for normal constipation. In case you are facing severe pain, observe blood in the stools, or if constipation lasts longer than three weeks, visit a doctor immediately.
The two main types of constipation that have been identified are
- Primary Constipation wherein the cause is not clear or unknown.
- Secondary constipation arises due to lifestyle changes or any other illness.
Primary constipation is also known as idiopathic or functional constipation. There are three main types of primary constipation:
Normal transit constipation
A type of constipation in which the individual suffering from it feels that they are suffering from constipation, but actually, they are not. The stool usually passes and can move through the digestive tract at a normal speed. People who are suffering from normal transit constipation experience bloating and pain in the abdomen.
The main reason behind this kind of constipation is damage to the muscles of the pelvic floor. As the muscles of the pelvic floor are injured or damaged, there is difficulty in passing the stools. The cause of the outlet constipation can be pregnancy, or it can even happen during childbirth.
Possible symptoms for the outlet constipation are:
- Requirement of hands to supplement the bowel movements
- Delay in the bowel movements
- Requirement of pressure to empty the bowels
Slow transit constipation
Individuals who experience slow transit constipation are unable to experience normal bowel movement. The movement of the stools through the digestive system is slow, and it takes a longer time to pass through the colon and the rectum. Hence, food is stored in the intestines for a more extended time, which is why the person suffers from slow transit constipation.
Secondary constipation is caused due to change in lifestyle, medication usage, health issues or side effects of any particular medication, as discussed earlier. It can lead to:
- Irritability in the bowel movements
- Usage of specific medications
- Diseases of brain or blood vessels
Few significant symptoms of constipation are given below:
- Feeling of fullness in the bowels even after the bowel movement
- Nausea and bloating
- Cramps in the stomach
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty or pain in passing the stools
- Stools that are dry and hard
- Less than three bowel movements per week
Constipation is a common problem with many causes such as medical history, health issues, pregnancy and lifestyle choices.
Lifestyles choices that can stimulate constipation are:
- Ignoring the urge to pass stool
- Excessive consumption of lactose rich foods such as cheese or milk
- Changes in the daily routine
- Avoiding daily exercise
- Not consuming fibre rich diet
Health and medical situations that induce constipation are:
- Diseases such as scleroderma, lupus which are categorised as multiple organ diseases
- Structural defects in the digestive system
- Obstruction in the intestine
- Lazy bowel syndrome in which the retraction of the colon is poor.
- Neurological disorders
- Outlet dysfunction constipation
- Diverticular disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Colorectal cancer
- Usage of certain drugs or medicines
As a patient, you must talk to your doctor without any hesitation. Medical health professionals or the doctor will first discuss the lifestyle changes, previous medical conditions, and bowel movements while diagnosing your condition. Vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure are checked, and the abdominal examination is conducted using a stethoscope.
Physical examination of the abdomen is performed to check for any lumps, pain, swelling or tenderness. Additionally, the health professional can also perform the rectal exam. A rectal exam includes checking the rectum for any lumps or masses.
Other tests are advised by the doctors, which depend vastly on your health condition and include:
- Colorectal transit studies: In this test, the patient has to consume a radioactive substance such as a pill or a meal and then the movement of that substance through the digestive tract is traced.
- Colonoscopy: It is a procedure in which the colon is examined internally. Additionally, your doctor can also take a small piece of tissue for biopsy to detect cancers. In case if any polyps are found, they are removed.
- Imaging tests: MRI [Magnetic resonance imaging], CT [Computed tomography] or other tests are performed to detect the primary cause of constipation.
- Lab tests: Blood tests and urine tests levels indicate the presence of hypothyroidism, anaemia and diabetes.
- The stool sample is checked for infections, inflammation, or to detect cancers.
- X-ray for testing the anus and rectum known as defecography.
- Another type of test is the balloon expulsion test, in which a balloon is inserted into the rectum.
- Anorectal manometry
The best and healthy treatment for constipation is changing lifestyles. Constipation which arises due to mood disorders or underlying health issues such as thyroid, requires specific treatments. Natural treatment includes the addition of fibres in the diet, more physical activities and elimination of stress. Generally, constipation is self-treatable. In case a person is not able to treat constipation at home, they should seek medical help.
Homoeopathy is a natural and effective way of curing constipation. Homeotherapy for constipation is better than purgatives as it is not habit-forming and will help the individuals without any side effects. It has successfully restored the bowel movements to normal and cured constipation. Patients who are dependent on homoeopathy have normal consistency of stools without any side effects.