Constipation: a wide spread health issue

Constipation: a wide spread health issue

Constipation, a commonly observed gastrointestinal condition, usually lasts for short time and it is not serious in nature. In broader context, constipation is described by health experts as an experience when there is no more than three bowel movements every week. Patients suffering form constipation tend to pass out stools that are usually small in volume, dry, hard and difficult or painful to excrete. Other common observations may include a sense of bloating and an unpleasant feeling of bowel fullness.

It is important to note that constipation itself is not a medical condition, but rather a symptom. The slow contraction of the colon and the excessive manner it absorbs water from the stools are often cited as the by-product of a dietary, physiological or pathological condition. It is largely attributed to a low-fiber diet, but other factors that can potentially play a part here include aging, lack of physical activity, travel, pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, dehydration, certain medications and specific diseases or intestinal disorders.

Fortunately a simple switch in dietary and lifestyle habits can easily bring about significant improvement to constipated patients, and likely to prevent it from happening again. Desired diet plan should include high-fiber food stuffs, notably whole grains, bran cereals, beans, raw vegetables and fresh fruit. On the lifestyle aspect, try to make a habit of drinking more water or other liquids to preempt dehydration, and of course some level of physical activity is to be maintained daily.

Finding a solution to constipation

As mentioned above, you need to effect a dietary and lifestyle change in order to treat or prevent mild constipation, but these alone are often not sufficient in case of severe and prolonged constipation. For any patient who has been experiencing constipation for extended period, laxatives could be a useful help. You can find many forms of laxatives easily over-the-counter products at most drug stores. Nevertheless be mindful of the fact that each laxative works in its own way and the result produced could vary across patients. Additional point to take note of is that laxatives are not necessarily free from contraindications or side effects. It is for this reason that we always advise one to consult with one’s own doctor, or at the minimum should scrutinize the labels carefully, before taking them on.

Some laxatives, called bulk-forming laxatives or fiber-supplements, make the intestine more efficient in absorbing water and in the process cause the stool to become softer. These represent one of the safest treatment options available, but care should be exercised so that sufficient water is to go along so as not to worsen constipation. Other known laxatives are: 1) stimulants, which trigger rhythmic muscle contractions in the intestine to excrete stool; 2) stool softeners and lubricants, which moisten and grease the stool respectively; 3) osmotic and saline laxatives, which enhance water absorption into the colon. Take note that cramping, nausea and diarrhea can happen with excessive or prolonged laxative use. Other commonly known side effects include nutrient malabsorption, dehydration, saline imbalances, and potential interference with other drugs currently used.

With the exception of bulk-forming laxatives, the rest of the laxatives found in the market are deemed to be not suited and not safe for extended use, since they could potentially introduce new set of problems, rendering the colon to lose its natural ability to contract and empty accordingly, which would only serve to worsen constipation.

Since nobody can be effectively excluded from the wrath of constipation (as this is often just a symptom of numerous medical conditions), it makes all the more sense to be protected from this disorder and its associated cost especially during one of the trips abroad. In that respect, a proper international health insurance would ensure one to be sufficiently protected from constipation even before it sets in.