Types Of Constipation
What is constipation? Constipation happens when you deal with uncomfortable or not-so-frequent trips to the bathroom. If you are constipated, your visits to the toilet result in passing small amounts of hard, dry stool – typically less than three times a week. Your body might signal that it's time to make things smoother in the bathroom.
What brings about this constipation? Join us in this blog as we uncover the diverse types of this common condition.
Types of Constipation
Constipation can be broadly classified into primary and secondary:
- Primary constipation either comes directly from an issue with the colon or happens without a clear reason.
- Secondary constipation shows up because of lifestyle choices or an underlying illness.
Constipation can also be classified as short-term (acute) or long-lasting (chronic).
- Short-term constipation (acute) happens suddenly, maybe due to changes in what you eat, your habits, or using certain medications for a short time.
- Long-lasting (chronic) constipation is a persistent problem that sticks around.
Understanding Primary Constipation
Doctors sometimes call primary constipation "functional" or "idiopathic." These words mean that constipation is the main health concern by itself, not caused by another hidden medical problem or happens for unknown reasons.
Now, let's talk about the three kinds of primary constipation.
I. Normal Transit Constipation
Primary constipation comes in different forms, each with its quirks and remedies. First up is the familiar normal transit constipation, where you might sense a bit of constipation, but there is no need to fret—it's the most common type. Stools here maintain their regular consistency and move through your digestive system at a steady pace. You might experience some abdominal bloating and pain, but fear not! The remedy trio includes upping your fiber intake, staying hydrated, and throwing in a bit of exercise or yoga. If things don't budge, laxatives are there to save the day.
II. Slow Transit Constipation
Next on the list is the elusive slow transit constipation, a rare condition that tends to affect middle-aged females. This one tricks the usual bowel stimulation, resulting in a sluggish movement of food through the digestive tract and infrequent trips to the bathroom. The remedy playbook is pretty similar: more fiber, ample water, a sprinkle of exercise or yoga, and, if needed, the trusty laxatives after consulting your doctor.
III. Outlet Constipation
Lastly, we have outlet constipation, a situation where damage to pelvic floor muscles, also known as dyssynergic defecation, wreaks havoc. The coordination between the pelvic floor and anal sphincter goes a bit haywire, making it tough to pass stools. This leads to uncomfortable symptoms like straining, delays in bowel movements, and the occasional need for some hands-on assistance. The superhero remedy for this one is biofeedback therapy, swooping in to restore harmony between those pelvic muscles and your body's natural rhythm. So, whether it's the regular traffic jam, the slow cruiser, or the tricky pelvic maneuvers, there's a tailored plan to get things moving smoothly again!
What is a biofeedback therapy?
Biofeedback therapy involves a skilled therapist placing a small device in the anal sphincter. The therapist then provides feedback, either visually or verbally, on how the person is using their pelvic floor muscles and anal sphincter when they are having a bowel movement. This feedback is behavioral therapy and valuable for helping the person retrain and improve the coordination of their pelvic floor muscles, overcoming outlet constipation.
Decoding Secondary Constipation
Secondary constipation happens when there's an underlying health issue or as a side effect of certain medications. The usual suspects causing secondary constipation include:
- Brain or blood vessel-related diseases (like dementia)
- Certain medications (like opioids and chemotherapy-induced constipation)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis)
Less common reasons for secondary constipation involve:
- Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals
- Tiny tears in the anal tissue (anal fissures)
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nervous system-related diseases (like Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis)
- Colon cancer
Treatment for secondary constipation
If you're dealing with secondary constipation, the first thing to do is find and fix what's causing it. Let's say you have diabetes that's not under control, and it's causing nerve issues leading to constipation. In this case, taking charge of your diabetes is crucial to help with the constipation.
Sometimes, surgery might be needed for folks dealing with secondary constipation, especially if there's a troublesome part of the colon that needs fixing or removing.
What Can You Do to Help? Supporting your gut health alongside medical treatment can be a way forward. While adjusting your diet and increasing physical activity won't directly address the main issue causing secondary constipation, these changes can prevent the situation from worsening. So, consider being more active, adding fiber-rich foods to your diet, and ensuring you drink enough fluids. Avoid food that causes constipation and Try foods that relieve it. It's like providing your body with additional support while the doctors focus on the primary problem.
Factors That Influence Your Gut Health: Risk Factors
What can make you more likely to get constipated? Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Not Enough Water: If you don't drink enough water, your poop can become hard and tough to pass. Water helps make your poop softer and move through your belly better.
2. Lifestyle Choices: Certain lifestyle habits might cause or add to constipation. Not moving around much, not eating enough fiber, and holding in your poop for too long can be factors.
3. Gender: Females are more prone to constipation than guys. Things like pregnancy or childbirth can also play a role, causing certain types of damage to the pelvic floor.
4. Pregnancy: Changes in hormones during pregnancy can slow digestion, leading to constipation.
5. Health Conditions: Some chronic health issues like hypothyroidism, diabetes, or Parkinson's disease may cause constipation.
6. Medications: Certain medications can slow digestion or affect nerves, making constipation more likely. This includes things like antacids, certain pain meds (like opioids), some antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and medications used for Parkinson's disease.
7. Using Laxatives and Enemas: Relying too much on laxatives and enemas for a long time can make it harder for you to poop without them.
When should I call a doctor?
If you sometimes get constipated, and it gets better with things you do at home, no worries.
But, it's a good idea to see a doctor if:
- Constipation sticks around, even when you try home remedies.
- You can't go to the bathroom without using laxatives every time.
- You notice constipation after starting a new medicine.
- You have extra symptoms like really bad stomach pain, blood in your poop, or pain when you go to the bathroom.
To Sum UP
So, in a nutshell, constipation can mean struggling with painful bathroom moments or having fewer trips than usual. It's like a puzzle with different pieces - primary or secondary, short-term or long-lasting. But the good news is, for the everyday kind, you can try simple things like drinking more, eating foods with lots of fiber, and moving around more. Just tweaking your daily routine can make a big difference.
But here's the deal - if you let constipation stick around without doing anything, it might bring some unwanted friends like stomach pain, bloody stools, or hemorrhoids. So be aware and create awareness about constipation. If it's getting serious or hanging on for too long, it's time to chat with your doctor, especially if other not-so-great signs are also showing up.
"Beat the bind, free your behind!"