When was the last time you heard someone was suffering from constipation? The answer probably is, never. Does that mean that constipation doesn't exist? Here are some numbers that prove otherwise. As per an Abbot survey in 2018:
- 22% of the Indian population suffers from constipation
- 13% suffer from severe or chronic constipation
If almost a fourth of the population suffers from it, how come most of us have never even heard of it? Is it because the treatment of constipation is quick and easy? The same survey reveals that 88% sufferers are concerned about the condition but very few are willing to discuss it with friends and family, it is seen as such a strong social taboo. Owing to this, almost a third of the sufferers have never treated the ailment whereas half have resorted to some sort of a home remedy.
What is constipation? And what are the causes of constipation?
In very simple terms, constipation is infrequent bowel movement. Every individual has a cycle for bowel movements and any deviation / infrequency in that is termed as constipation. The Cleveland Clinic defines constipation as less than 3 bowel movements a week.
It is caused when the intestines absorb more water from the waste (undigested food) making the stool hard and difficult to pass typically because of the slow movement of the waste through the intestines / colon. The reasons for can be many:Lifestyle
Irregular habits (sleeping and eating patterns), stress, consumption of excessive dairy products, lack of drink water / dehydration, low fibre food, caffeine / alcohol since they dehydrate the body, resisting the urge to empty the bowels, sedentary lifestyle
Strong pain medications, anti-depressants, narcotics, medicines for calcium, iron or aluminium might lead to constipation
Pregnancy, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal obstructions, neurological disorders can all lead to constipation.
What are the further medical concerns that constipation can cause?
While toxins getting spread in the body (as one would imagine with the accumulation of waste) is not a usual after effect of constipation. But if the treatment of constipation is delayed, it can lead to:
- Haemorrhoids i.e. swelling of veins in the rectum,
- Anal fissures i.e. tearing of the lining of the anus
- Diverticulitis i.e. infection in the intestines
- Fecal impaction i..e collection of too much stool in the rectum
- Damage to the pelvic floor muscles which might lead to further straining of the muscles and cause a urine leak
7 ways to prevent constipation
The most usual causes of constipation are lifestyle related. By making simple changes to the lifestyle, constipation can be avoided. Things like:
- Having enough water
- Maintaining a schedule for sleeping and eating
- Eating high fibre foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals)
- Exercising regularly
- Avoid excess caffeine and high fat foods like meat, egg and cheese
- Move the bowels whenever there is an urge for it
- Do not read, use your phone or other devices while trying to move your bowels. If the bowels are not emptied completely, the chances of getting constipated are higher.
What is the treatment for constipation? Does alternative medicine have cure or prevention and treatment of constipation?
The good news is the treatment of constipation is fairly easy and very rarely does it causes complications enough to need a surgery. Constipation can be cured by making necessary changes to the lifestyle like maintaining a pattern / schedule, exercising, having enough water, eating high fibre foods etc. Ministry of Ayush also details out some home made recipes that can aid in curing constipation. Also, there are Unani and ayurvedic medicines for constipation as listed out by the NHP. We at The Good Herbs also present an ayurvedic medicine for constipation, Good 4 Gut, one solution for curing constipation and improving digestion to avoid ailments constipation, GERD, acidity, bloating and other gastric issues.
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