Constipation is a common disturbance of the digestive tract. It means slow movement of feces through the Large Intestine, it is often hard feces in the descending colon that accumulates because of the long time available for absorption of fluid. It is characterized by either incomplete evacuation of stools daily or delayed evacuation of hard stools once in 2 or 3 days. It is a condition of stasis in the large intestines. This results in distension and infrequent or difficult evacuation of the feces. The stools are sometimes accompanied by blood loss as the anal passage may be damaged or scratched.
Constipation is the chief cause of many diseases.
CAUSES OF CONSTIPATION
- Lack of sleep and rest.
- Irregular eating and elimination habits.
- Faulty dietary habits such as including more refined foods and very little fiber foods.
- Chronic use of laxatives and cathartics.
- Poor muscle tone as in old person or bed-ridden person.
- Painful defecation due to hemorrhoids and fissures and avoidance to eliminate feces.
- Organic diseases such as diverticulosis.
- Ingestion of certain drugs, large amounts of sedatives, ganglionic blocks agents or options.
- Intestinal spasms due to presence of irritating material, psychological influences, etc.
- Change in surroundings.
TYPES OF CONSTIPATION
In clinical practice, the term constipation is used to denote 4 different types due to:
1] Colonic stasis (Atonic Constipation)
2] Rectal stasis (Dyschezia)
3] Irritable colon Syndrome (Spastic Constipation)
4] Intestinal Obstruction
Atonic constipation is more common among people. The main reasons for this are lack of fluids in the body, especially after perspiration for stool formation, lack of roughage which contributes to the lack of cellulose stool formation, deficiency of B1 which produces poor muscle tone, lack of potassium which reduces muscle tone, irregular evacuation habits and use of purgation agents.
Spastic constipation, on the contrary, occurs due to excessive muscle tone of the colonic muscles. The movement of the food is very irregular and often cases pain in the lower abdomen. Irritating foods, excessive use of purgatives or mental stress produce this type of constipation. Excessive use of alcohol, tea or coffee also produces this.
*Use of castor oil or other purgatives in Infancy is a common practice in our country. It contributes to constipation in later life.
Modification of the Diet
The objective of dietary treatment is to encourage bowel movement and improve bowel evacuation. A well balance diet with high B group vitamins and liberal fluid intake is recommended. Fiber or cellulose content of the diet must be high. Bland cooking is preferred.
A high fiber diet is characterized with coarse cereals, wholegrain with bran, pulses, fresh fruits, salad, vegetables, fibrous vegetables like ashgourd, snakegourd, pumpkin, leafy vegetables, roots and tubers, dried fruits and fluids along with potassium-rich vegetables. A regular time of meals is very important.
Bael Fruit: It is regarded as the best of all laxatives. It cleans and tones up the intestines. Its regular use for two to three months throws out even the odd accumulated facial matter. It should be preferably taken in its original form and before dinner. About 60 gm of the fruit are sufficient for an adult.
Pear: Pears are beneficial treatment of constipation. Patients suffering from chronic constipation should adopt an exclusive diet of this fruit or its juice for a few days, but in ordinary cases, a medium-sized pear taken after dinner or with breakfast will have the desired effect.
Guava: It is another effective remedy for constipation. When eaten with seeds, it provides roughage to the diet and helps in the normal evacuation of the bowels. 1 or 2 guava should be taken every day.
Orange: It is also beneficial in the treatment of constipation. Taking one or two oranges at bedtime and again on rising in the morning is an excellent way of stimulating the bowels. The general stimulating influence of orange juice excites peristaltic activity and helps prevent the accumulation of food residue in the colon.
Papaya and Figs: Half a medium-sized papaya should be eaten at breakfast for it to act as a laxative. Both fresh and dry figs have a laxative effect. Four or five dry figs should be soaked overnight in a little water and eaten in the morning.
Spinach: Among the vegetables, spinach have been considered to be the most vital food for the entire digestive tract from time immemorial. Raw spinach contain the finest organic material for the cleansing, reconstruction and regeneration of the intestinal tract.
Raw spinach juice -100 ml, mixed with an equal quantity of water and taken twice daily, will cure the most aggravated cases of constipation within a few days.
Sesame seeds: The oily composition of sesame seeds works to moisturize the intestines, which provides relief from constipation. Add 1 teaspoon of seeds to cereals or salads for crunch, or pulverize them in a coffee grinder and sprinkle on food like a seasoning.
Herbal tea: Mint and ginger are both proven home remedies to help alleviate a slew of digestive problems.
Peppermint contains menthol, which has an antispasmodic effect that relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract.
Ginger is a “warming” herb that generate more heat inside the body. As a tea, they along with the hot water will help stimulate digestion and provides relief from constipation.
Dandelion tea is also a gentle laxative and acts as a detoxifier.
Other Remedies: Half a lime, squeezed is a glass of hot water, with half a teaspoon of salt is also an effective remedy for constipation.
Drinking water which has been kept overnight in a copper vessel, first thing in the morning, brings good results.
Linseed (alsi) is extremely useful in difficult cases of constipation. A teaspoon of linseed swallowed with water before each meal provides both roughage and lubrication.
Other Measures: Toning up the muscles also helps in the treatment of constipation. Fresh air, outdoor games, walking, swimming, and exercise play an important role in strengthening the muscles, and thereby preventing constipation.