About 20% of people with untreated celiac disease have chronic constipation instead of the classic symptom of diarrhea. As the rate of diagnosis improves, constipation is becoming recognized as a common symptom of celiac disease.
Constipation is a common problem in the general population of the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 4 million people have frequent constipation. It is one of the most common digestive complaints in the United States, resulting in about 2.5 million doctor visits and 92,000 hospitalizations annually, although most people treat themselves. This high rate of constipation results in annual laxative sales of over $735 million in this country.
This article will discuss the following topics:
1. How to recognize constipation.
2. Natural remedies that have been shown to help constipation.
3. How to induce a bowel movement.
WHAT IS CONSTIPATION?
Constipation involves problems with stool formation, consistency, and evacuation. It is characterized by one or more of these features:
· Hard, dry stool or soft, putty-like stool.
· Difficult defecation.
· Infrequent defecation, less than one bowel movement per day.
· A feeling of incomplete evacuation following bowel movement.
Constipation can give rise to many different ailments including indigestion, a white coated tongue, bad breath, gas, hemorrhoids, hernia, body odor, depression, fatigue, headache, insomnia, and varicose veins.
The three main causes of constipation are abnormal bowel motility, malabsorption and dysbiosis. Each one, or all three together can cause constipation.
1. Abnormal bowel motility is altered peristalsis, where food passes through the intestine too slowly, due to ineffective muscle action of the intestines. It may take the form of spastic colon or atonic colon.
· Spastic colon is characterized by a spasms, (irregular and excessive muscle contractions of the intestinal walls), so that the muscles resist stretching and thereby decrease the diameter of the inside of the intestine. This restricts the passage of food.
Hard, dry stools are produced as the colon absorbs too much water from the slowly advancing stool. Spasms can result from magnesium deficiency, chronic stress, lack of exercise, lack of water or lack of fiber in the diet.
Spastic constipation is associated with variable degrees of abdominal pain or distress, erratic frequency of bowel action, and variation in stool consistency.