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What is it?

Causes

Symptoms And Complications

How to diagnose?

Treatment and Preventions

FAQs

What is Constipation?

Constipation occurs when stool or waste material moves too slowly through the large intestine. Feces that stay in the bowel too long before elimination become hard and dry. This results in difficult, painful, and infrequent bowel movements. In many cases, constipation is harmless, but it can significantly lower your quality of life. It's not a disease, but it might be a symptom of a disease.

Many people believe they are constipated when they're not, thinking that less than one bowel movement a day is abnormal. In fact, as little as twice a week is fine so long as you go easily when you feel the need. A normal bowel movement, no matter how often, should be soft yet hold its shape and be easy to pass without needing to strain.

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What causes Constipation?

When food leaves the stomach, it's still a partly digested mush. Your body recuperates valuable fluid from it while it's moved down the colon (large intestine). This transforms it into normal feces. The longer it stays in the colon, the drier it gets. This makes it harder.

Obviously, the quantity also increases if you wait to go to the toilet. A large, hard stool can be painful and difficult to pass. This can make people, especially children, reluctant to go, creating a vicious cycle. It's a common pattern of chronic constipation in children, which often begins when they start school. Many young children avoid school toilets and end up waiting too long.

Chronic constipation can last for months or years. It's usually caused by poor diet, some other disease, or regularly ignoring the urge to go to the toilet. Low-fibre diets and insufficient water intake are common causes of constipation.

While most otherwise healthy people will occasionally experience constipation, certain diseases or conditions can also cause it, such as:

Acute constipation starts suddenly and lasts for a few days. It can be caused by a blockage, prolonged inactivity, medication, dehydration, or missing a bowel movement. Pregnant women can develop constipation when the womb presses on the intestine. Sometimes, general anesthesia affects the bowel muscles for a few days after surgery. Lead poisoning and swallowing indigestible objects are other rare causes.

Examples of medications that can provoke acute constipation include:

  • anticonvulsants used for Epilepsy
  • antidepressants
  • certain diuretics
  • heart medications such as calcium-channel blockers
  • iron supplements
  • medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • pain medications such as Codeine* and Morphine
  • some cough and cold medications containing Dextromethorphan
  • some antacids

Overuse of laxatives eventually makes the bowels less sensitive to the need to eliminate feces and can cause chronic constipation. The bowels become dependent on laxatives to work, and this can lead to bowel distension and sometimes a condition called melanosis coli.

People who are bedridden can develop severe acute blockages called fecal impaction. The stools may have to be removed by their doctor.

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Constipation Symptoms And Complications

Symptoms of constipation can include:

  • a sensation that the bowels haven't completely emptied
  • bloating of the abdomen, and possibly a "rumbling" noise
  • gas
  • indigestion
  • infrequent bowel movements
  • loss of appetite
  • lumpy and hard stools that are difficult to pass
  • needing to strain to get stool out
  • pain or pressure in the belly
  • some bleeding as a result of straining

Constipation can cause complications. Very large, hard stools can stretch the anus, tearing the skin. These anal fissures can be very painful. Occasionally, a really tough bowel movement causes rectal prolapse, in which a small section of intestinal lining pokes out of the anus and has to be pushed back in. Hemorrhoids can also be caused by the chronic pushing of constipation.

If you have experienced constipation lasting longer than 7 days or your constipation has been accompanied by vomiting, blood in the stool, weight loss, a swollen and painful abdomen, Fever, or small, pencil-sized stool, seek medical attention.

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How to diagnose Constipation

If constipation is a problem, see your doctor. A physical exam will show whether there are hard stools in your intestine or any unusual masses in your stomach. This will include a digital rectal exam to check muscle tone.

Your doctor might do a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. This involves using a lighted tube with a camera on the end to look into part or all of the large intestine. A barium enema allows abnormalities of the large intestine to be seen on an X-ray. These procedures require some preparation to empty the bowel so that it can be seen on X-ray.

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Constipation Treatment and Preventions

Constipation can be treated medically, but lifestyle changes are often very important. The following practices can both treat and prevent constipation:

  • Do physical exercise to stimulate the movement of waste through your intestines.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of fluid each day – water is best.
  • Increase dietary fibre to about 25 g per day for women and 38 g per day for men by eating whole grains, especially flaxseed, fruits, and vegetables (these add bulk to stools, making them easier to pass)
  • Lower your consumption of processed foods.
  • Schedule regular times for toilet use. Try to have a bowel movement at the same time each day (after breakfast, for instance).
  • Talk to a health care professional if you suspect that your medication is causing constipation.
  • Use prune juice, stewed prunes, or figs to soften hard stools (increase the amount slowly to reduce the risk of gas).
  • Go to the washroom when you feel the urge to go.

Medications are usually brought in if changing diet and habits doesn't work. Most laxatives should be used sparingly as needed.

  • Bulk-forming laxatives add bulk to the stool, stimulating defecation.
  • Others act by coating the feces with oil, preventing water from being absorbed by the intestine.
  • Some laxatives, including suppositories, are irritants or stimulants that cause the lining of the intestine to contract, helping to push out the stool.
  • Some laxatives work by pulling water back into the colon to ease transit.
  • Enemas can be used to increase the amount of water in your stool, rapidly causing defecation.

These medications can create dependence, so use them only as needed, as directed by your health care professional.


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Frequently asked questions

How to buy Constipation medications online?

You can buy your medications to treat Constipation online at PocketPills if you already have a valid prescription from your doctor. You can get started by uploading your prescription, ordering a refill by transferring any existing medications to our pharmacy or talking to one of our Canadian Doctors to get an online prescription. Get started now!

Can I get brand name Constipation medications or chose to get generics?

Absolutely. You can always communicate your preference for brand or generic medications during your online consultation. As a policy, PocketPills advocates generic medications as more affordable and more likely to be covered by your insurance plan

Can I get a prescription on PocketPills for Constipation?

Yes, our physicians can prescribe medications online during your consultation. Once you receive a prescription, you'll have the option to have it delivered to your door in discreet packaging and at no additional cost!. Click here to get an online prescription today!

References

All material © 1996-2021 MediResource Inc. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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