Severe Chronic Constipation

By Dr. Julia Lizy, MBBS (KEMU)

Severe chronic constipation

Constipation is defined as fewer than 3 bowel movements a week, and hard, dry and difficult to pass stool.

It is associated with low abdominal discomfort, distention or bloating.

Risk factors for chronic constipation 

  • Inactivity, very little exercise

  • Not enough fiber in one’s diet

  • Dehydration, not drinking enough liquids

  • Stress, which can slow down stool transit time

  • Certain pain relievers and other medications

  • Age, more common in the elderly 

Treatment of Severe Chronic Constipation

There are numerous approaches for treating severe chronic constipation.

The best place to start is with changes in one’s diet and lifestyle.

  • Increase your intake of fiber. A good goal is 18-30g of fiber each day.  Foods with high fiber contents are fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grain products and bran cereals.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink more water, at least 6 to 8 glasses a day. 

  • Get some exercise. Studies have shown that a sedate lifestyle can cause constipation.

  • Set aside a specific time each day to allow for defecation. Help your body to establish a rhythm.

  • If you take medications that are known to cause constipation, ask your doctor if there is a similar medication that doesn’t have this effect.

  • Regular use of stimulant laxatives can be habit forming, so that the body needs them for normal peristalsis. You must find other ways of handling severe chronic constipation.

  • Taking a daily magnesium supplement is the best answer for some in overcoming severe chronic constipation. Magnesium is a natural osmotic laxative that pulls water into the colon. For most people, 200 to 400 mg. a day may be all they need for permanent constipation relief.

If your constipation is due to medicine you are taking, you have taken laxatives for months or even years.

If so, you should decrease the dose of your laxative gradually to help your body adjust to functioning without it.

Treating Fecal Impaction

Fecal impaction occurs when too much water is drawn out of feces, making it small, dry and hard.

The feces than collects in the rectum, where it can become a sizable mass that is difficult and painful to pass.

An osmotic laxative is one of the best ways to soften this impacted stool.

Even a double dose of a magnesium supplement for 2 or 3 days may do the trick. If not, here are a couple more less comfortable options:

  • Take a suppository. This medicine is given through the anus and can be effective.

  • An enema is a liquid that is given through the anus. It may work when nothing else does.

If these treatment options don’t work, please see your doctor. An endoscopy may be needed for proper diagnosis of severe chronic constipation.

In this procedure, a tube with a camera in inserted through anus for a look inside the large intestine. It can highlight physical problems of the colon, including physical obstructions.

For certain problems with the colon, surgery may be necessary.

How Magnesium Helps to Overcome Severe Chronic Constipation

There is a significant relationship between constipation and magnesium. In clinical trials it has been shown that a lack of magnesium in one’s diet can contribute to constipation.

For constipation relief, the role of magnesium is undeniable.  

  • Doctors use magnesium to clean stool out of the bowel in preparation for surgical or diagnostic procedures.

  • Magnesium is used as an antacid to relieve acid indigestion. 

  • Magnesium can take as little as one to four hours to produce a bowl movement. For more severe chronic constipation it may take a longer period of time.

  • Magnesium draws water into the intestine. This helps to hydrate stool. As stool absorbs moisture it becomes bulkier, which helps to initiate peristalsis, the wave-like contractions of the colon that moves stool along.

  • Magnesium is a relaxant mineral. It helps to offset the effect of calcium, which makes muscles more tense. Magnesium can help to restore normal contraction and relaxation cycles.

  • When magnesium pulls water into the colon, it helps to create moist, soft and slippery stool that is easier to eliminate. 

Conclusion, severe chronic constipation

Lifestyle changes are the best way to overcome chronic constipation. Magnesium is key for constipation relief.

Magnesium is available in certain foods, including fruits and green leafy vegetables. When a person doesn’t get enough magnesium in their diet, a magnesium supplement may be needed to restore and maintain proper magnesium levels in the body.

(Return from Severe Chronic Constipation to What is Constipation)

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