There may be several ramifications or adverse effects related to being constipated especially over a prolonged period of time. If you have, if you can imagine if you have a large rock hard stool resting in your rectum, it may rub against the rectal wall and cause what we term a stercoral ulcer. Okay, this is because the large hard stool has actually scraped away some of the surface lining of the rectum. And that can result in pain upon defecation. it can definitely cause a patient to avoid going to the restroom and so it can make constipation worse, and it can also result in bleeding and anemia if this condition is allowed to persist over time. As far as causing pain, especially rectal pain or lower abdominal pain, yes, this can adversely affect individuals. Let's say for example, if a patient has coronary artery disease. Okay, quite frequently when patients are admitted to a coronary care unit, they're actually given stool softeners because you don't want to have a patient straining when they have a bowel movement. That can put increased stress on the heart. And so, aside from diminution in appetite, fear of evacuation, there are a number of ramifications of side effects, which can be directly attributable to severe constipation.
The constipation is actually a symptom which is defined as a decreased frequency in the passage of stool. Normally, the patient may notice some difficulty when they are trying to evacuate their bowels. They may get a sensation that they have incomplete passage of stool. There may be some discomfort and/or pain associated with the passage of stool. Patient may also, in some instances, experience lower abdominal discomfort and/or pain. And in rare instances, especially if the patient has hemorrhoids, dilated rectal veins, the patient may notice some blood when they wipe themselves or in the commode after the passage of a hard stool.
So in summary, constipation. As we mentioned, constipation is a symptom characterized by when a patient has either difficulty passing a stool normally, and especially if the patient hasn't passed a stool within five days time. Now, there are a number of reasons why this may occur. If there's a decrease in the amount of fiber in the diet or if there's a decrease in the amount of fluid that a patient consumes, or if a patient is taking medications such as pain medication, which may slow down intestinal transit. What to do about it. If you notice that you have any of the warning signs, rectal bleeding, losing weight, pain, which is relatively not easily controlled, and this goes on for several days, you should bring this to the attention of your physician. We talked about testing and how most individuals who are in good health, you want to do a good history and physical, and then try some things to see if you can get the bowels moving. But if you have any warning signs, bleeding, weight loss, fever, intractable pain, then further investigation is required.
Constipation may be associated with a decreased intake of the amount of fiber and/or liquids. You could think of. It basically what goes in has to come out. And so there are at least two things operative here. A decreased amount of fluid intake will result in a more condensed hard stool, which is actually harder to pass. If a patient has a slow motility or slow bowel movements that, let's say the colon contracts and relaxes at a slower pace, that will definitely manifest itself as constipation. As far as decreased fiber, well, fiber attracts water into the gut. Less fiber in your diet, less water attracted to your gut. That's right. Your stool become concentrated and you will become constipated. Now, are there hormonal differences or causes of constipation? Yes, we talked about in a previous episode, the effect of the thyroid gland. And the thyroid gland is like a thermostat. And so if your thyroid functions at a lower level, your intestinal movements will move more slowly and that will result in constipation. Also, we've noticed that in females when they're pregnant, due to the interactions of hormones, that they may become constipated as well. And so, yes, hormones, medications, diet, liquid, all impact constipation.
So what can you do to prevent constipation? Well, as we mentioned, consume appropriate amounts of fluid, make sure you have enough fiber in your diet, get eight hours of sleep at night, because that'll help you if you can, and also exercise within your limits.
Send this to a friend