One of the most embarrassing and irritable situation that you face in your daily life is constipation.
It occurs when you have less than three bowel movements in a week.
If you have constipation, your stools will be usually dry, small in size and difficult to eliminate.
There are certain conditions that can cause constipation.
Opioid induced constipation:
Use of opioids in patients with cancer and pain can cause constipation.
Opioids cause constipation by maintaining or increasing intestinal smooth muscle tone, by reducing sensitivity to rectal distension, by suppressing forward peristalsis, and by raising sphincter tone at the ileocaecal valve and anal spinchter.
These factors can cause delay in passage of faeces through the gut and thereby increasing absorption of electrolytes and water in the small intestine and colon.
Hard stools in the bowel and intrinsic and extrinsic bowel tumor or pelvic tumor exist, causing gastrointestinal obstruction. The obstruction may be resolved by managing constipation.
If you have spinal cord compression or cauda equine syndrome, your bowel management will be troublesome. Rectal sensation loss, poor anal and colonic tone and pain can result in constipation with overflow and variable degrees of nausea, abdominal distension and vomiting.
Spinal cord compression or cauda equine syndrome is managed to attain controlled continence. Combination of oral laxatives daily with suppositories or enemas two to three days can enable rectal evaluation.
Constipation in children with Down syndrome:
In children with Down syndrome, constipation occurs mostly due to two factors: low muscle tone and decreased motor activity. Both the conditions make the colon to retain the stool for longer periods, leading to water loss from the stool.
If constipation in children with Down syndrome is left untreated, it can lead to many conditions. The conditions include:
- Rectal fissures, which means tearing in the rectum that leads to bright red blood on the surface of the stool and on the toilet paper, but not mixed in with the stool.
- Rectum stretching that can lead to sensation loss to have bowel movement.
Children with constipation should be treated with balanced diet. The diet includes high fiber food, fruits, and vegetables. Adding stool softener into the bottles of the babies helps in softening the stools by adding water to the stool.
Foods rich in fiber include whole wheat, unrefined breakfast cereals, fresh fruits, rye flours, grainy breads, legumes such as baked beans, chick peas and lima beans, dried fruits such as prunes, figs and apricots, unprocessed wheat bran, and vegetables.