Constipation is more of a symptom, rather than a disease. A person is usually considered to be constipated if he is having fewer bowel movements than usual, takes a long time to pass stools, and if bowels are hard.
Constipation is a common digestive tract disturbance, which restricts regular bowel movement. It is broadly defined as less than three bowel movements per week. Severe constipation is less than one bowel movement per week. Nearly everyone becomes constipated at one time or another; and older people are more prone than younger people.
The number of bowel movements generally decreases with age. Majority adults have bowel movements between three and 21 times per week, and this is considered normal. The best habit is one bowel movement a day, but most people are irregular and do not have bowel movements every day or the same number of bowel movements each day.
Constipation mostly lasts for a short time and is not serious. If you can make out what is causing constipation, you can take steps to prevent it.
o No bowel movement at least once a day
o Difficulty in eliminating fecal matter – may lead to anal fissures
o Mucus coated tongue
o Foul breath
o Pain in the lower legs
o Loss of appetite
o Dizziness, nausea
o Diarrhoea alternating with constipation
o Wind formation
Causes of constipation:
1) Faulty diet – Lack of dietary fibre like vegetables, fruits and whole grains leads to hard stools, which slows the passage of waste food through the bowel. Eating a lot of high-fat meats, dairy products and eggs, or rich desserts and sweets also may cause constipation.
2) Lack of fluids – Without adequate fluids, waste matter in the intestine dries out, making it difficult to pass.
3) Lack of exercise – If you follow a sedentary lifestyle, muscle contractions that move waste matter through the bowel slow down.
4) Overuse of laxatives – causes damage to the nerves and muscles.
5) Hormonal and physical changes – pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause
6) Smoking, consuming too much tea or coffee
8) Aging – bodily functions including digestive system usually slow down with age.
9) Certain medicines – such as some anti-allergies, anti-histamines, painkillers, iron tablets and some antacids
A change in what you eat and drink and how much you exercise daily will help relieve and prevent constipation. The easiest solution is the increase of fluids (preferably water) and dietary fibre. This may be achieved by consuming more vegetables, fruits and whole grains to one’s diet. The routine use of laxatives is to be discouraged as this may result in bowel action becoming dependent upon their use.
Avoid all types of processed and refined foods such as white flour, rice, bread, cakes, pastries, biscuits, white sugar.
Increase intake of wholegrain cereals, whole wheat, green vegetables, spinach, cabbage; and fruits such as guava, grapes, apples, orange, and papaya.
Drink lot of fluids – Drink between ten to twelve eight glasses of fluids/water a day to prevent constipation. Avoid alcohol or caffeine containing drinks.
Get adequate exercise – as it helps prevent constipation by stimulating the colon. Do things that keep you moving and active as it also promotes overall health.
Use laxatives only if advised by the doctor
Check medications – Certain drugs can cause constipation such as medications to relieve high blood pressure, antipsychotic drugs and even some over-the-counter pain relievers. If you are regularly taking any such over-the-counter drugs, discontinue them for a while and notice the difference.
Constipation requires immediate treatment if it is accompanied by symptoms such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, and involuntary weight loss.
Home remedies for Constipation-
o Drinking a glass of warm milk before going to bed helps in easy bowel movement in the morning. In case of severe constipation, mix two teaspoons of pure castor oil in the milk. This remedy is one of the most useful Home Remedies for Constipation
o Drink one litre of luke warm water on an empty stomach, and take a light walk for a few minutes immediately after waking up early in the morning.
o A common Ayurvedic medicine for constipation is Triphala Churna. A teaspoon of this powder to be taken with warm water or milk at the time going to bed. This remedy is another effective and good Home Remedy for Constipation
o Guava is helping in relieving constipation, if eaten with seeds. One or two guavas to be taken daily, as it provide good roughage to diet.
o Eat only when hungry and give a gap of at least 4 hours between meals.
o Food should be slowly and properly chewed. Hurried meals and meals at odd times should be avoided.
o Use spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric powder, fennel as they make the food easy to digest.. This is helpful in Constipation Cure.
o Fried foods, beans, wind-forming vegetables like cauliflower, radish and dried fruits should be avoided. Do not mix too many kinds of foods in one meal.
o All fruits, like guava, grapes, papaya, figs, orange (except banana and jackfruit), are beneficial constipation cure.
o A teaspoon of linseed swallowed with water before each meal provides both roughage and lubrication.
o Ginger tea is a very good Home Remedy for constipation. It helps start bowel movement.
o Avoid milk and milk products as they contain casein, an insoluble protein that tends to block up the intestinal tract.
o Take 10/12 pieces of raisin (Munakka), and then boil them in a glass of milk. Cool it, eat the raisins and drink the milk. This is very good and effective Home Remedy for constipation.
o Turmeric powder boiled in milk along with figs also helps in relieving constipation and constipation cure.
Expert’s advice – constipation is usually easier to prevent than to treat. Therefore, try and follow a healthy life style.