Everything you need to know about constipation

As explained by the Spanish Foundation of the Digestive System (FEAD) in one of its guides, “we speak constipation property to refer to that circumstance in which there are less than three weekly stools, being the feces scarce, hard and dry, associated to a lack of desire or need to defecate. ” A situation that is abnormal in a society where the frequency is around three depositions a day, at most, and that affects almost 20% of the population. In fact, it is one of the most common causes of consultation in primary and specialized care.

The reason behind this high incidence is perhaps the great variety of triggers that cause this symptom. ” Suppressing the conscious desire to defecate frequently or continuously (‘call neglect’) […] causes chronic constipation,” says the FEAD. However, the responsibility also falls on other more common factors, such as lack of daily physical exercise, inadequate diet, low fluid intake, intake of some drugs or eating away from home frequently and too quickly. , among others.

Despite the existence of these cases, there are also risk factors and groups that present a greater tendency to suffer from constipation. In addition to people who meet the points above, elderlydepressed, with limited or limited mobility or suffering from neurological, respiratory or cardiac diseases are more exposed to this disorder. Under this premise, what additional symptoms does constipation cause?

A symptom with many symptoms

Photo: iStock.
Photo: iStock.

Although constipation is considered a symptom in itself, the fact is that its presence can also trigger other discomforts extremely uncomfortable. We talk about the feeling of having incompletely evacuated, swollen belly, pain in the lower back or associated with bowel movements, headache, bleeding, fatigue, hemorrhoids or even bad breath or unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Since it is not an illness that is used, the diagnosis is usually made following the data provided by the patient , such as symptoms, the number of stools, the effort they require, the state of the stool, their lifestyle, their level of stress or if you have lost weight as a result of constipation. Of course, in some cases, the responsible doctor can also request a blood test or an x-ray of the abdomen, in order to rule out obstructions or secondary disorders.

How to put solution to constipation

Photo: iStock.
Photo: iStock.

As we have seen, constipation is very linked to food. Therefore, our diet is crucial to prevent and solve this condition. First, fiber should be a priority nutrient, since its functions include facilitating the expulsion of feces, avoiding the absorption of some types of fats and sugars, keeping the intestine healthy and clean, favoring intestinal transit or preventing the accumulation of toxins in the body, among others.

The ingredients with the highest fiber intake are usually part of three specific food groups: fruits, vegetables, and legumes. More specifically, corn (85.5 grams), basil (40.5 g), black beans (24.9 g), peas (16.7 g), chickpeas (13.6 g) or Almonds (13.4 g) are some of the foods richest in fiber, according to the Database of Food Composition, whose data represent a portion of 100 grams.

Constipation is a very uncomfortable symptom that affects 20% of the population

In addition, it is important to bear in mind that “a large amount of fiber is found in the skin of fruits, so it is advisable, as far as possible, to eat fruits with the skin. The liquefied fruits and vegetables and the juices have much less fiber than the fruit in its natural state. The whole foods (bread, pasta, rice) provide a fiber supplement. However, consuming an excess of fiber can cause flatulence and abdominal distension, “warns the Societat Catalana de Digestología. In these terms, it is best to eat about 30 grams of fiber a day.

Other methods to prevent or calm constipation are to exercise regularly, create a habit that repeats every day to accustom our body; the use of laxatives or prokinetics -drugs that increase colon movements-and, in the worst case, exceptional surgical treatment. Of course, it must be a doctor who determines the most appropriate therapy according to the patient’s clinical case. With the exception of changes in diet, which may act as a supplement, the other procedures must be supervised by a health professional.

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