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Constipation Side Effects

Constipation Side Effects

Constipation is one of the most common health ailments that affects people of all ages. Although it is not a life-threatening disease, there are many side effects that may cause problems to our health. Scroll down to know more about these side effects, and various other related issues.
Kanika Khara
Did You Know?
Constipation is also known as costiveness, or as dyschezia.

Constipation is a digestive health disorder that occurs due to a decrease in the frequency of bowel movements. Mainly characterized by incomplete excretion of the bowel or passage of hard and dry feces, constipation can be a contributing factor towards the onset of several health problems, since prolonged retention of food in the intestines can cause production and buildup of toxins in the body.
Causes of Constipation
  • Insufficient intake of dietary fibers
  • Inadequate consumption of water
  • Intake of different drugs like antacids, antidepressants, etc
  • Medical conditions like hypothyroidism, spastic colon, gut disorders, etc
  • Slow bowel movements due to pregnancy
  • Physical or emotional stress
Symptoms of Constipation
  • Difficulty in evacuating the bowel
  • Infrequent and painful bowel movements
  • Passing hard and dry stool
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Excessive gas and bloating
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Distended abdomen
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Foul breath and bad taste in mouth
Side Effects of Constipation
  • Of the many side effects of constipation, the most common are piles and anal fissures, where the person strains to try to pass stool. Hemorrhoids and anal fissures are painful, and can lead to swelling in the rectal area. Moreover, straining may further cause rectal prolapse, which occurs when a small amount of intestinal lining is pushed out of the anal opening.
  • Fecal impaction is another side effect that occurs when the stool becomes extremely impacted in the bowels, to an extent that it cannot be expelled from the body. In such conditions, enemas or other invasive methods are adopted to break up the stool, so that it can be passed.
  • When the bowel is constipated with stool, the colon becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and parasites. This may lead to a whole host of problems throughout the body like gall-bladder problems, varicose veins, heart disorders, arthritis, hernia, appendicitis and, in extreme cases, colorectal cancer.
  • Constipation weakens the body's immune system, and reduces the ability to fight illnesses. This creates excessive strain on other vital excretory organs like lymph, skin, liver, kidneys, and lungs. Therefore, these organs become overworked, and their ability to eliminate wastes from the body gets hampered. Hence, this leads to slower cellular metabolism and lower energy levels in the body.
  • Other side effects may also include feeling of lethargy, fatigue, mood swings, sleep disorders, etc.
Treatment for Constipation
Treatment of constipation primarily depends on its underlying cause. Eating a fiber rich diet comprising fruits, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, etc., helps to speed up the passage of waste food through the bowel. Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking 2 - 3 liters of water everyday, will limit the risks of becoming chronically constipated. Regular exercise will enable proper muscle contraction, that will help move the waste material through the bowel. Sorbitol is an indigestible naturally occurring sugar, that draws water into the gut, and is highly effective in softening the hard and dry feces. Incorporating food items, like apples, apricots, gooseberries, grapes (and raisins), peaches, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries, and strawberries, that are high in sorbitol in our daily diet, will also be beneficial in overcoming the side effects. However, if these remedies don't prove to be effective, and with time if the condition worsens, it is recommended to consult a doctor for necessary treatment.
The side effects of constipation can reach far beyond our digestive health, and cause various other serious conditions. Therefore, it is important to treat this problem as early as possible, by following a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.