The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study on Jan. 28, 2013, about the practical management of the problem of constipation especially in the older-aged population in North America. Constipation, though a common health condition, may create significant health concerns and a negative impact on the quality of life.
Since constipation is an embarrassing subject, people remain reluctant to talk about this bowel problem that refers to a person moving their bowels three or fewer times per week, the process involves difficulty passing stools or straining to move your bowels, and a hard and dry stool consistency occurs. According to Mayo Clinic, people experience constipation as a temporary condition most of the time. The usual solution involves drinking more fluid, eating more fiber in the diet and participating in more exercise.
The journal, American Family Physician, published a review on the causes of constipation. Inactivity, taking a large number of medications, older age, and low fiber diet contribute to the problem. Some medications that create more problems with constipation include diuretics, pain pills, antidepressants, iron pills and anticonvulsants. Constipation occurs three times higher in women than men. Chronic health diseases found to increase the risk of constipation include such conditions as stroke, cancer, depression, hypothyroidism, diabetes, dementia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Medline Plus reported that with older adults living longer, the treatment of constipation by health professionals becomes necessary. A serious side effect of chronic constipation involves fecal impaction. The stool becomes hard and remains stuck in the bowel. The condition can produce nausea, pain and loss of appetite.
The Canadian article published by Dr. Dov Gandell and colleagues in Toronto this month reviewed the current proof on the helpfulness and safety of treatments for constipation. Medications such as MiraLAX and lactulose produce effective results, but create excess gas, bloating and diarrhea. Over-the-counter (OTC) fiber products such as Metamucil, Konsyl and Citrucel bring about positive laxative results with few side effects when taken daily. Other OTC natural derived laxatives like senna and cascara generate successful bowel movements, but studies indicate these laxatives become less effective with prolonged use. Your primary care provider may refer individuals with difficult to treat constipation to specialists, like gastroenterologist, if the constipation fails to respond to these common treatments.