Archive for the ‘Constipation’ Category

Constipation-Not All That It’s Cracked Up To Be

January 2, 2012

I try to lead a very transparent life and I would like to share an experience with the readers of my column. Recently I’ve had knee surgery and have taken pain medication to make it possible to work and sleep. However, I experienced one of the side effects of pain medication, i.e., constipation. I’ve discovered various myths associated with the dreaded “C” that I think is worth passing along.
What’s “normal” varies from person to person. Some people go three times a day; others, three times a week. Although having a bowel movement once a day is common, it’s fine to go a few days without one.
Some people believe that constipation causes the body to absorb poisonous substances in stools. But there’s no evidence that the stools produce toxins or that colon cleansing, laxatives, or enemas can prevent cancer or other diseases.
Older people are more likely to become constipated. This can be because of medical conditions, poor nutrition, greater use of medications, or not enough physical activity. But constipation is one of the most common issues among other age groups, too. For example, it’s not unusual during pregnancy or after childbirth or surgery.
Increasing the fiber in your diet can often help constipation. But chronic constipation can signal a real problem. In rare cases, it can signal illnesses such as colorectal cancer or autoimmune disease. In my case, the constipation was due to inactivity and the use of pain medication, which result in a decrease in peristalsis or rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the colon.
Travel can change your daily routine and diet, contributing to constipation. Avoid dehydration-related constipation by drinking water, especially if you’re flying. Also move around when you can — for example, while waiting for plane connections or by taking rest stops when driving. Other travel tips: Exercise, limit alcohol, and make a point of eating fruits and vegetables.
Depression may trigger constipation or make it worse. Reducing stress may help. Massaging the abdomen may help relax the muscles that support the intestines and get your bowels moving.
You may feel too busy at work to have a bowel movement. Or you’d rather wait until you’re home. But ignoring the urge when it comes may not only make you physically uncomfortable — it can cause or aggravate constipation by weakening the signals over time. Some people find it helps to set aside time after breakfast, when the coffee “kicks” in, or another meal for a bowel movement. But no matter when nature calls, answer.
Besides medications for pain, medications for depression, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s disease are associated with constipation. Too much calcium and iron can also lead to constipation. Calcium supplements, especially if taken with another supplement or medication that binds the stool, may also cause problems.
Fiber Fixes for Feces
Try to get at least 20 grams a day of fiber. Eat more whole fruits and vegetables; replace white rice, bread, and pastas with whole-grain products and brown rice. And don’t forget to drink at least 2 to 4 extra glasses of water a day.
Eating foods with fiber helps you feel full and stay regular. Insoluble fiber in particular can help ease constipation because it’s indigestible and doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk to stool and helps it pass through the intestines faster. Good sources of insoluble fiber are whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereal.
This small, dried fruit has earned a big reputation as “nature’s remedy” for constipation. Prunes (often called dried plums) can prevent or improve constipation symptoms. They’re packed with insoluble fiber, as well as the natural laxatives sorbitol and dihydrophenylisatin.
Get moving since lack of physical activity can contribute to constipation. Exercise, however, can help make your bowel movements more regular and can reduce stress. Try a 10- to 15-minute walk several times a day. Stretching and yoga can also help constipation.
Coffee and constipation. It’s true that the caffeine in coffee can stimulate the muscles in your digestive system to contract, causing a bowel movement. So why isn’t it recommended as a fix for constipation? Coffee can actually make stools harder to pass because it is also a diuretic, so it draws liquid out of stools. If you are constipated, avoid coffee and other diuretics such as alcohol and caffeinated tea and cola.
Depending on the type of over-the-counter laxative you use, you may need to wait a few minutes or a few days to produce a bowel movement. A suppository, like Ducolax, might work within an hour.
Stool softeners prevent constipation by allowing stools to absorb more water from the colon. They prevent feces from hardening — softer stools are easier to eliminate from the body. In some cases, your doctor prescribes stool softeners after surgery when you need to avoid straining during bowel movements.
Castor oil is a powerful laxative. But like other laxatives, it should not be used long-term. Overusing laxatives can hurt your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and some medications. Castor oil can damage the bowel muscles, nerves, and tissue if overused — all of which can cause constipation. Use it only with a doctor’s guidance.
Blood in a bowel movement is not always serious, but you should always call your doctor if it happens. Bright red blood is usually from hemorrhoids or tears in the anal lining called fissures. Constipation and straining during bowel movements can be the cause. Maroon or tarry black blood or clots usually mean bleeding is coming from higher in the gastrointestinal tract. The cause may be more serious.
Bottom Line: It is nice to be normal and have a BM every day. Failure to do so, is not a reason to call 911. If you have a change in your bowel habits contact your physician. Your colon will thank you!

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A Grapefruit May Be The New Apple-But Be Careful

July 24, 2011

For generations we have been encouraged to eat an apple-a-day in order to stay healthy and keep the doctor at bay. Today, the new apple may just be the grapefruit.
Let’s look at the benefits of grapefruit:

Appetite Loss: Grapefruit reduces the feeling of hunger. This is the reason why people include grapefruit in their weight loss programs. High fiber contained by this fruit can satisfy hunger and thus may avoid any overeating temptation. Grapefruit juice, if combined with water, can quench the thirst.

Fatigue: Grapefruit is beneficial in the treatment of fatigue. It helps to dispel fatigue and general tiredness. It can bring about a refreshing feeling in you when you drink equal amount of grapefruit juice and lemon juice.

Acidity: The fresh grapefruit juice has alkaline reaction after digestion. The citric acid increases the effect of the alkalinity reaction after digestion. The juice extracted from the grapefruit is beneficial in preventing the acid formation and many other diseases that arise due to the presence of acidity in the body.

Indigestion: Grapefruit is useful for solving the problem of indigestion. It is very light as compared to other food articles and thus, acts immediately on indigestion by easing the heat and irritation caused in the stomach. It improves the flow of digestive juices, thereby improving the digestive systems.

Insomnia: A simple glass of grapefruit juice, if drunk before going to bed, can promote healthy and sweet sleep and thus, alleviates insomnia.

Constipation: A glass full of fresh squeezed grapefruit in the morning is the best remedy to control the constipation. Grapefruits are high in fiber and they result best in stimulating the colon and other parts of the body.

Urinary Disorders: Grapefruit juice is quite rich in potassium and vitamin C and thus, works as the best medicine in the case of recurrent urinary tract infections.

Lowers Cholesterol: The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that consumption of grapefruit can reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as triglycerides.

Caveats on grapefruit
As with any medication, there are considerations about the use of grapefruit with medications. More than 50 prescription and over-the-counter drugs are affected by grapefruit juice, including some of the most commonly prescribed medications. This list includes a number of medications used to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, pain, erectile dysfunction, and allergies.

Grapefruit contains a substance that inhibits the enzyme called CYP3A4. This powerful enzyme breaks down numerous medications such as the cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor. Patients who take Lipitor, or some antidepressant medication, and eat grapefruit, can have toxic levels of the medications because the grapefruit inhibits CYP34A.

So what are patients to do? Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to find out about your specific drug. All new medications are tested for drug interactions, including grapefruit juice, before they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When you order medications in the mail or pick them up at your local pharmacy, you should receive a patient information sheet, which will let you know if your drug is affected by grapefruit juice. Some pharmacies may also put a warning label on your medication bottle. If you are not sure, ask the pharmacist.

Bottom Line: Grapefruit juice may be helpful for many conditions and improve overall health. However, there are precautions about using grapefruit because of interactions with certain medications. If you have any questions, check with your doctor or your pharmacist.

The Power of Poop-You Won’t Believe This New Treatment For Many Diseases-It May Just Scare the Sh#@ Out Of You

June 26, 2011

Throughout civilization, human feces has posed considerable health hazards; when it gets into the water supply, for instance, a lot of bad things can happen. But in recent years, a variety of medical researchers, many of them gastroenterologists, have pushed for a greater understanding of poop, and have made some startling discoveries. It is possible that many medical illnesses — from intestinal problems to obesity to disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and perhaps even cancer — are related to bacteria in our colons. Now read this: the solution therefore may lie in transplanting healthy bacteria from a normal person into a sick person. This procedure, fecal transplant, was developed by a gastroenterologist in Sidney, Australia. A fecal transplant consists of taking the stool from a healthy person, mixing it with a saline solution, and inserting it into the colon of an ill person. Fecal matter is now much more than solid waste. We now know that it is largest organ of the body. It contains about nine times more living bacteria than the body contains human cells. So, in a manner of speaking, we are 10 percent human and 90 percent poop. Bacteria are capable of producing antibiotics. An example is penicillin, which was discovered when Alexander Fleming saw that some bacteria caused other bacteria to stop growing. When the stools infected with a bad bug or bacteria and causes an illness, the bacterial flora may be altered and stop producing antibodies. Using another person’s normal bacteria and return the bacterial flora to normal and resume making the good antibiotics. Bottom Line: All that stinks is not all bad. Healthy fecal bacteria may be helpful in treating various disease states such as ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, constipation, and maybe even multiple sclerosis.

No. 2- Try Harder, Especially if you Have Constipation

January 27, 2011

Few of us like or are comfortable talking about our problems with urination or with bowel movements.  However, when these functions go awry, all havoc takes place. Though not usually serious, constipation can be a concern.  This article will discuss constipation and what can be done to resolve the issue. 

Almost everyone gets constipated at some time during his or her life. It affects approximately 2% of the population and the elderly are more commonly affected.

What Is Constipation?

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; others, only one or two times a week. The longer the interval between bowel movements, the harder the stool becomes and the more difficult to pass.

You are considered constipated if you have two or fewer bowel movements in a week.

 What Causes Constipation?

Constipation is usually caused by inadequate water intake. Inadequate fiber in the diet. inadequate activity or exercise or immobility, eating large amounts of dairy products, resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, which is sometimes the result of pain from hemorrhoids, overuse of laxatives or stool softeners.

How Is Constipation Diagnosed?

Most people do not need extensive testing to diagnose constipation. Only a small number of patients with constipation have a more serious medical problem. If you have constipation for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor so he or she can determine the source of your problem and treat it. If constipation is caused by colon cancer, early detection and treatment

How Can I Prevent Constipation?

Fiber and water help the colon pass stool.  Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran).   Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water each day. Avoid milk, as dairy products may be constipating for them.  Moving around and exercise tends to promote bowel regularity. 

Treatment

If you are constipated, try the following:  Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day (unless fluid restricted).  Add fruits and vegetables and fiber to your diet.  If needed, use a very mild stool softener or laxative (such as Peri-Colace or Milk of Magnesia). Do not use laxatives for more than two weeks without calling your doctor, as laxative overuse can aggravate your symptoms.

Call your doctor if:  You have blood in your stool; you have severe pain with bowel movements; or your constipation has lasted more than two weeks.

 Bottom Line: Constipation is a common problem.  Most people can prevent constipation with diet and moderate exercise.