(Hard Stools, Difficulty Passing Stool)
(Hard Stools, Difficulty Passing Stool)
What is ‘Constipation’?
Constipation is a condition characterized by inability to pass stools that become hard and more difficult to pass. If you begin to have bowel movements much less often than is usual for you, you may be getting constipated.
Other symptoms include:
- Discomfort, or a sense of incomplete evacuation during a bowel movement
- Hard, lumpy stools.
There are many causes of constipation, some of which are listed:
- Medications such as narcotic pain relievers, antispasmodic medications, antidepressants, iron supplements
- Certain health conditions can also be the cause, such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Chronic kidney failure
- Rectal or colon cancer
- Multiple sclerosis
Prevention of constipation
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a balance diet high in fibre (fruits, vegetables) - beans and peas, raspberries, broccoli are example of foods that are high in fibre
- Leave time to and have a bowel movement at he same time each day.
- Use the washroom when you have the urge
- Drinking plenty of fluids. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water daily
You need to visit your doctor if you are constipated and:
- You have not had a bowel movement for seven days, or
- You are extremely uncomfortable because you are constipate, or
- You have pain in your rectum (back passage) or rectal bleeding, or
- You have a fever, your stomach hurts, you feel like throwing up, or you have unexplained weight loss, or
- Your bowel movements are thin as a pencil, or
- You have a problem with your bowels that lasts longer than two weeks or keeps coming back, or
- It is extremely painful to have a bowel movement
The need to treat constipation with medication is often dependent upon the cause of the constipation. A health professional should be consulted if anything other than a bulk-forming laxative is used for treatment of constipation, especially if you are pregnant. If constipation is chronic (does not go away), you should follow the steps under ‘How can I prevent constipation?’ and increase the amount of fibre in your diet or take a fibre supplement.
- Bulk Forming Laxatives
Sometimes these are known as fibre supplements. Includes:
Ispaghula (psyllium), Sterculia gum, Polycarbophil, Methylcellulose, and bran. These laxatives are suitable for long-term use and usually take from one to three days to work. Drink plenty of fluids with these products, or they make constipation worse.
- Osmotic Laxatives (E.g. lactulose) also draw fluid into the intestine. They usually take about one to two days to work. This type of laxative may be used on an ongoing basis under a doctor’s supervision and under certain conditions.
- Saline Laxatives (E.g. milk of magnesia, magnesium citrate) act like a sponge to draw water into the colon for easier passage of stool. They usually work within a few hours.
- Stimulant Laxatives (E.g. Senna, cascara, bisacodyl, castor oil) cause irritation of the bowl o stimulate movement. Suppositories act within 5-30 minutes while tablets work in about 6-12 hours.
- Stool Softeners (E.g. docusate sodium, docusate calcium) prevent stools from being dry and hard and allow for easier bowl movement.
- Increasing Fibre in the Diet
- Replace white bread with whole-grain breads and cereals, eat more foods like pasta or rice and non- buttered popcorn
- Eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each da
- Add ¼ cup of wheat bran or ground flax seed to foods such as cooked cereal or applesauce or meat loaf
- Eat cooked beans each week.
CONSTIPATION IN CHILDREN
Most children who are constipating usually don’t need special treatment. Like adults, each seems to have their own ‘normal’ schedule, and the best treatment involves alteration of diet. Warning signs that may indicate a more serious condition include vomiting, weight loss, poor weight gain, fever, abdominal bloating, or poor appetite. Constipation an also be a sign of dehydration and poor feeding in younger infants and newborns, and so pediatrician must carefully evaluate problems in this age group.
Medications for Infants
- The use of enemas is not recommended; impaction can be treated with glycerin suppositories on the recommendation of a health professional
- Lactulose or so sorbitol can be used as osmotic laxatives on a doctor’s recommendation
- Milk of magnesia, mineral oil, lactulose, and sorbitol are considered safe and effective as recommended by a doctor
- Young children are at increased risk of aspiration pneumonia and use of mineral oil.
Prune juice is rich in fiber and is an effective home treatment for constipation. Often, prune juice is combined with a bit of apple juice or apple sauce to increase its palatability
Article By:- eHealthhut Webmaster