What is Constipation
Constipation is characterized by stools that become hard, dry and difficult to pass. Occasional constipation is usually short-lived, but chronic constipation persists for several weeks or longer.
The Rome III criteria for constipation includes two or more of the following: Straining to have a bowel movement at least 25 percent of the time; producing lumpy or hard stools at least 25 percent of the time; feeling like stool is still in the rectum after a bowel movement at least 25 percent of the time; feeling like something is blocking stool from passing at least 25 percent of the time; using manual maneuvers to help with stool passage at least 25 percent of the time; having fewer than three bowel movements per week; rarely passing loose stools without the use of laxatives.
Causes of Constipation
The most common causes of constipation include low dietary fiber, lack of exercise, dehydration, overuse of laxatives, certain medications, stress and ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.
Underlying conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) and weakened pelvic muscles can also cause constipation.
Symptoms of Constipation
The most common symptoms of constipation are having three or fewer bowel movements per week, stools that are difficult or painful to pass, and abdominal pain and bloating.
Constipation sufferers may also experience having lumpy or hard stools, excessive gas, a feeling of fullness, bloody stools (due to tearing of anal tissue), leaks of wet, almost diarrhea-like stool between regular bowel movements, straining to have bowel movements, feeling as though there is a blockage in the rectum or being unable to completely empty the stool from the rectum.
Long-term effects of Constipation
The long-term effects of constipation can include hemorrhoids; anal fissure (torn skin in the anus); stools that cannot be expelled (fecal impaction); lazy bowel (being unable to have a BM without laxatives); and an imbalanced gut microbiome (dysbiosis).
Constipation can also spur the development of diverticulosis and trigger attacks of diverticulitis.
Natural remedies for Constipation
Food combining has been shown to help support more efficient digestion which in turn may relieve constipation. Food combining centers on pairing foods together that require similar digestive enzymes to ease the overall burden on the GI tract and promote better digestion.
Super Shield Plus Multi-Strain Probiotic Formula can help ease gas and bloating, encourage more thorough digestion and regular bowel movements, and support a healthy intestinal flora balance.
Other helpful measures include drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, concentrating on fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise and reducing stress.