1. Constipation exists if bowel movements are difficult/infrequent.
Constipation, a condition characterized by infrequent and difficult bowel movements is common in older adults and the elderly. The large intestines becomes sluggish with as we age, thus allowing more time for faecal material (stool) to move through; this increases absorption of fluid from the faeces and it becomes dry and hard.
2. Constipation can be self- inflicted
When a person regularly refuses to go to toilet when the urge comes, that person is inhibiting his normal bowel reflexes and constipation can result. Refusal to obey the call of nature could be due to laziness, inappropriate sanitary location, social or occupational activities. The body after a time gets used to killing the urge and constipation results.
Certain medications such as antacids, calcium and iron supplements can cause constipation. Also, certain conditions of the large intestine which make it to contract can also cause constipation.
3. Constipation causes piles and other conditions in the large intestine.
The rectum – a part of the large intestine and the anus are rich in blood vessels. These blood vessels by virtue of location are subject to pressure during passage of faeces (stool), pregnancy, violent coughing or sneezing.
If there is a lot straining during the stool passage due to constipation, piles (haemorrhoid) can result. Pile can show itself in form of pain, bleeding and swelling just inside or outside the anus. Piles can lead to low blood level (anaemia).
4. Constipation can be managed by change in life-style and Laxatives.
A change in bowel habits helps in the management of constipation – like using the toilet every morning even if the urge is not there. After a while, the body gets used to the routine and the constipation will begin to ease. Other non-medication methods include regular physical exercise and relaxation.
Laxatives are used as a last resort for serious cases of constipation; some of them absorb water while in the large intestines thus increasing the bulk of the faeces. Increase in bulk stimulates bowel movements.
5. Constipation can cause Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
Pressure from constipation can cause pouches in the weak areas of the colon, a condition called Diverticulosis. About 20 percent of cases go on to develop inflammation/infection of the pouches leading to Diverticulitis. Symptoms include Pain in the left lower abdomen, occasionally in the right lower abdomen; Fever; Chills and Diarrhoea.
6. Constipation can be prevented.
Eating fibre-rich food can help to prevent constipation. The fibre-rich foods include cereals, whole grain bread, fruits, vegetables, beans and fibre-rich carbohydrates. Fibre-rich foods increase the bulk of faeces. Drinking plenty of water regularly also helps to prevent constipation-as water in the intestines increases the bulk of faeces and also softens it.
Use of the toilet every morning whether the urge is there or not helps to train the body to want to use the toilet every morning. This habit helps to prevent constipation.
It is said that eating nuts stimulates bowel movement and this prevents constipation.