Constipation, or medically termed as fecal impaction, is a change in normal bowel habits characterized by a decrease in the frequency and passage of hard, dry stool It is also characterized by a decrease in stool volume, with the oozing of a liquid stool past a collection of hard, dry stool
Constipation may be imagined as well when the patient expects a daily bowel motion and does not have one. It may be severe enough to cause rupture of the bowel but is more typically remedied by increased fluid and fiber.
Factors affecting the likelihood of constipation include inadequate fluid intake, low fiber diet, immobility, and fear of straining pain and consumption of certain medications. Other factors include laxative abuse, pregnancy, tumor or other obstructing mass and neurogenic disorders.
Constipation should be cured and prevented to avoid further complications. The important things to consider to overcome constipation are the following:
1. Usual pattern of elimination should be assessed to have a comparison to the present defecation pattern.
2. Daily fluid intake should be 2000 to 3000 ml/day, unless contraindicated medically.
3. Fiber in the diet should be increased, with inclusion of raw fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Fiber passes through the intestine essentially unchanged. When it reaches the colon, it figures a gel, which adds bulk to the stool and eventually turns defecation easier.
The increase in fiber intake should be done gradually, for a precipitous increase may lead to gaseous distention, bloating and abdominal discomfort. If possible, a consultation to a dietitian may do great help.
4. Eat prunes, take prune juice, cold cereal, and bean products. These are “natural” cathartics that aid in an easier elimination of bowel movements.
5. Increase physical activity by planning ambulation and exercise periods if possible. Ambulation and abdominal exercises strengthen abdominal muscles that help facilitates bowel movement.
Isometric abdominal and gluteal exercises can be done to strengthen muscles needed for bowel movement, unless contraindicated medically.
6. Have a regular time for bowel movement. Many persons defecate following breakfast or first cup of coffee, which is a result of the gastro colic reflex.
7. For bedridden people who are experiencing constipation, a warm bedpan should be used and offered. Let the person to assume a high Fowler’s position, with knees flexed.
This position best utilizes gravity and allows effective Valsalva maneuver. Make sure to provide privacy, curtain off the area and allow the person to have a moment to relax.
8. If the urge to eliminate a bowel is felt, it is best to answer to it. Go to the bathroom and defecate. Ignoring the defecation urge eventually leads to constipation, because the rectum no longer senses the presence of stool.
The longer the stool remains in the rectum, the drier, harder and more difficult to pass it becomes.
9. Evaluate current medication usage, which may contribute to constipation. Medications that can cause constipation include narcotics, antacids with calcium or aluminum base, antidepressants, anticholinergics, antihypertensives, and iron and calcium supplements.
These important considerations may help prevent the further discomfort caused by constipation, only if heed upon. Constipation is just a symptom and freeing one’s self from experiencing it is not that hard, and only needs a change in lifestyle.