Constipation is a failure of the process of defecation that is characterized by the absence or poor bowel movement for more than 48 hours. Symptoms of defecation include less frequent bowel movements than the person is accustomed to, a sense that everything didn’t come out, hard or small stools, abdominal pain.
Constipation contributes to the development of intestinal dysbiosis, chronic colitis, and provokes intoxication of the organism. In addition, frequent and severe straining during the process of defecation leads to the development of hemorrhoids, hernia, and anal fissures. Frequent constipations adversely affect the general condition of the skin, causing it to age.
Constipation is either chronic or situational (or episodic). Situational constipation may be observed during pregnancy, on a trip, due to inadequate fluid intake, stress and anxiety, and eating foods that hinder the bowel movement.
Furthermore, constipation may be provoked by using a certain medicine. As a rule, situational constipation is a temporary and transient phenomenon which passes on its own or due to the use of laxatives. Situational constipation is not considered to be a disease.
The constipation is considered to be chronic if bowel movements take place in the intervals of more than 48 hours. At the same time there is a small amount of feces per movement and their consistency is dry and solid. Moreover, the sense of incomplete purgation is retained even after the defecation.
Among the population constipation is a fairly common digestive disorder. The tendency to constipation can lead to serious proctologic diseases. Proceeding from this, chronic constipation is considered to be an independent syndrome, which is a recurring theme for its detailed study by gastroenterologists, proctologists, and other specialists.
Constipation is very common among elderly and young children.
Moreover, constipation is also a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome, which interferes with intestinal motility and results into the occurrence of the stool instability. Sometimes, there occur constipations with small and sometimes hard stools with mucus, which may alternate with diarrhea. It is against this background that all stress conditions only worsen the functional activity of the intestine.
On the basis of etiological factor constipations are classified as:
- due to anorectal diseases;
- due to mechanical obstruction;
Constipation has a variety of symptoms, directly depending on its cause. Usually, the bowels are considered to be constipated if the bowel movements take place once in 2-3 days and rarer. During constipation, defecation requires tension, conjugated with an effort.
Dry and solid feces having the shape of beans, dry beads, or a cord are usually observed during constipation. Sometimes there occurs constipational diarrhea, when the prolonged absence of normal stool results in diarrhea with mucus. Liquid diarrhea with mucus occurs also due to the irritation of the intestinal wall.
Constipation often causes the feeling of heaviness and pain in abdomen, subsiding as bowel movement and getting rid of intestinal gas takes place. Flatulence often creates difficulties in the bowel movement. The activity of microorganisms that are abundant in the large intestine leads to the increased amount of gas.
Patients suffering from constipation also show loss of appetite, belching, or bad breath. All this leads to depression, sleep disturbances, reduced workability, or even neurotic disorders.
Chronic constipation is manifested by the complications on the side of the digestive tract. These include inflammatory bowel disease, recto-anal disease, megacolon – an increase in the large intestine and its diverticular disease.
Enterolith ileus is a pretty serious and unpleasant consequence, in which case the patient requires surgery. Prolonged obstruction is the cause of the intestinal wall ischemia and leads to its necrosis.
Sometimes constipation is a clear sign of malignant tumor process. In addition, the nutritional constipation contributes to the formation of carcinogens in the intestine.
Diagnostics of chronic constipation is usually carried out in several stages.
Clinical symptoms are important in the first stage. They imply: history of the disease, complaints, and physical examination data. There is also radiographic picture, which helps to assess the state of the large intestine: the width of the lumen, motility, tumor formation, the stretching of the wall, stricture, megacolon, congenital malformations.
Intestinal obstruction is quite easily detected during barium enema.
The second stage involves such diagnostics as: colonoscopy – an endoscopic analysis of the colon, taking a biopsy sample of the mucous membrane and their histological and cytological examination.
Research methods are dependent on prior assumptions. These include: coprogram, bacteriological samples, anorectal metrics, sphincterometry, detection of occult blood, and a variety of laboratory tests.
Diagnostics and prescriptions are chosen on the basis of the complaints of the patient.
Preventive measures for constipation include timely detection of anomalies and further treatment of the digestive tract and other diseases that contribute to the emergence of constipation.
Proper diet, which should be rich in organic fiber, plays a very important role. It is recommended that the person has a sufficient amount of fluid intake per day. You must also adhere to an active lifestyle, swimming, regular walks, or aerobics. Moreover, one should stick to a healthy eating regime and regular bowel empting.
First, you should understand that self-medication for constipation is unacceptable. This is because constipation can be a sign of a serious illness or lead to dangerous complications. In addition, long-term usage of laxatives leads to the formation of continual problems with defecation, due to reducing motor bowel function. As a matter of fact, dosages of laxatives will increase, and drugs eventually become totally ineffective.
Treatment of chronic constipation is not limited only to laxatives.
In addition to symptomatic therapy, treatment includes measures to identifying and treating a condition that caused the development of constipation.
After identifying all the mechanisms of chronic constipation in a patient, the doctor prescribes treatment, of course, taking into account all the pathogenetic factors.
A few recommendations for the treatment of functional constipation
There are many causes of functional constipation, but the basis of its pathogenesis is diseases that disrupt the functioning of the digestive tract.
Diet always remains an important element in the therapy. Foods that are rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, cereal should be present in the diet of the patients. Drinking at least two liters of fluid per day should be taken as a rule.
The medicine called Mucofalk is prescribed if the diet causes bloating and increased flatulence.
All foods that trigger constipation should also be removed from your diet. The person should adhere to the nutritional regime, that is, eating in small amounts at least 5 times a day. Prolonged intervals between meals should be avoided.
You should take the regularity of bowel emptying seriously. Drugs that cause intestinal obstruction should be discarded and replaced by those which have beneficial effect on digestion.
Laxatives should be taken in case of continuous constipation, which do not depend on the regime and diet.