By Dr. Shrey Lakhotia, BDS
Constant constipation is defined as 3 or more months a person when a person has less than three bowel movements a week.
The Rome III criteria can be used to diagnose chronic constipation and to separate cases of chronic constipation from less-serious instances.
Not getting enough fiber in one’s diet is a common cause for chronic constipation.
Fiber is that part of a plant that is not digested by our digestive tract. It simply passes through, adding bulk to stool as it is formed.
A lack of fiber can be corrected by modifying one’s daily diet to include fiber rich sources of food. Some of these are:
A magnesium supplement can be taken to complement increased fiber. It can even help to keep stools moist and easy to pass when fiber intake is minimal.
When increasing fiber and magnesium intake, make sure to increase water intake to keep from getting dehydrated.
Sometimes we tend to drink less water when we are experiencing:
Dehydration is a major cause of constipation. Water is necessary for many bodily functions.
When a person is dehydrated, the body will draw extra water from stool to use it elsewhere. This causes stool to become dry, hard and difficult to pass.
To prevent dehydration, drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
Drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks or alcoholic beverages can also cause dehydration. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which flush water from the body.
To balance the effect of alcohol and caffeine, drink an extra glass of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic drink.
It is a proven fact that constipation is related to physical inactivity.
The muscles of both the abdomen and intestines are involved in producing normal bowel movements. When abdominal muscles are weak, it may result in incomplete emptying.
The answer is to work a little exercise into one’s daily routine. Something as simple as taking a short walk each day can help.
Pain relievers, and even more narcotic drugs, may make one constipated. Besides these, the following may contribute to constipation.
For those on a thyroid hormone supplement, not taking enough may result in constipation.
One way to overcome constipation caused by medications is to ask your doctor if there is an alternative that is less constipating.
Taking a daily magnesium supplement can also help to offset the effects of medications.
But check with your doctor before mixing magnesium and medications, because magnesium may hinder the function of some medications.
Diseases, and especially tumors, can quickly change the appearance of one's stool, and may even stop the bowel from moving.
Metabolic and endocrine problems can lead to cases of constant constipation. Here are diseases to be aware of:
Anismus occurs in a small percentage of those with chronic constipation or an obstructed bowel.
The first step to treat chronic constipation due to these conditions is to treat the underlying disease.
Other steps, like eating a fiber-rich diet, staying hydrated and exercising, can be taken.
Magnesium plays an important role in the prevention and management of constipation.
Magnesium acts as an osmotic laxative, pulling water into the colon. This does the following:
Taking as little as 200 to 400 mg. of a magnesium supplement each day be enough for long-term constipation relief.
A single dose of Epson salt or Milk of Magnesia can give you 8 times the amount of magnesium needed per day. This is why they should only be used for occasional use.
Taking a magnesium supplement is safer.
Since most of us are't getting adequate magnesium in our diets, taking a little magnesium every day may result in numerous health benefits.
As we have seen, there are many things that may directly cause constant constipation or at least contribute to it.
Once a person knows the cause of their constant constipation, they will be in a better position to reverse it.
Note: It is best to see your doctor before beginning on supplemental magnesium. A person with kidney disease may have trouble in excreting any excess magnesium, which could result in magnesium building up to a toxic level. Magnesium may interfere with the absorption of certain medicines.
(Return from Constant Constipation to Causes of Constipation)