Constipation – signs, symptoms and treatment – Part 1
In discussing the condition known as constipation, your mind goes straight to that portion of the gastrointestinal tract known as the colon.
The colon, also known as the large intestine extends from the caecum to the anus. It comprises of the ascending, transverse, descending colon, the sigmoid and rectum.
The colon deals with the stools. The consistency of the stools-whether hard, soft or watery is determined by the amount of water in the body; the state of hydration of the body. The amount of water in the body on the other hand, determines the state of hydration of the body. The body could therefore, be said to be dehydrated or adequately hydrated.
When the body is in a state of dehydration, more water is drawn from the stools in the rectum into the body, leaving the stools hard, sticky and remaining in the rectum for a longer period.
This condition is known as Constipation. This is defined as infrequent bowel movement and passing of hard stools. In terms of the number of times the bowel may be opened, constipation can be said to be a state of opening the bowels once in three to four days. At this time the stools are definitely hard. Opening the bowels once a day is considered normal for some. Also, opening the bowels three times a day is no less normal
Causes of constipation
Dehydration: The state of hydration of the body also contributes to the consistency of the stools is one of the most important causes of constipation. In a state of dehydration, more water is reabsorbed through the wall of the colon into the body. This leaves the stools hard and sticky, moving very sluggishly towards the rectum. The movement may even be arrested completely. When this happens, acid wastes and other toxins begin to accumulate in the colon. Indeed, these wastes could even be absorbed into the body where they may cause such serious medical conditions as cancer in another gland. Cancer of the colon is usually caused be the acid and toxins that accumulate in the colon.
Poor diet: The type of food eaten is another cause of constipation. Animal protein, white flour products, white, polished rice etc all cause the stools to move slowly through the colon. The major reason why this happens is that these types of food do not contain fibre. Insoluble fibre increases the rate of movement of stools in the intestines by absorbing water and increasing the bulk of the stools. Not only that, it also cleanses the colon, dislodging and eliminating impacted faecal matter in the folds of the colon.
Vegetable based foods and fruits which contain a lot of fibre pass through the colon fast.
The longer the stools stay in the colon, the more the toxins and acids released into the body. The stools being wastes from food eaten contain a lot of bacteria, which give rise to more toxins.
Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle are also contributory to the cause of constipation. Exercise shake up the muscles, intestines, organs and other internal structures. Exercise helps the bowel contents to move faster by helping the peristaltic muscles to function better. There is digestion and faster evacuation of wastes from the body.
Deficiency of Essential Fatty Acids: The Essential Fatty Acids, Omega 3 and 6, make the stools softer and cause an increase in the rate of movement of stools through the colon. This is particularly so if Omega 3 and 6 are present in the proper ratio. These healthy oils can be gotten from nuts, seeds, coconut oil and avocado.
Digestive enzyme deficiency cause partial digestion and indigestion: These partially digested food particles stick to the wall of the colon cause blockage to movement of stools and
Disruption of the normal bacteria flora of the colon: There is a colony of friendly bacteria in the colon. This is referred to as normal flora and they play very positive and complimentary role in the colon. For example, they destroy the unfriendly bacteria that may find their way into the colon. When this normal bacteria flora is disrupted, nit can lead to constipation. Processed, refined food, sugar, caffeine and antibiotics are some of the things that can disrupt the flora.
Other causes of constipation include magnesium deficiency. Magnesium citrate has been found to be very potent in the treatment of constipation.
Drugs such as diuretics, antidepressants and antihistamines do cause constipation. The treatment of constipation caused by these drugs would be withdrawal of such drugs.
Endocrine conditions like hypothyroidism and diabetes have been linked with constipation.