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Constipation

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Understanding Constipation


Constipation is difficulty in passing stools. It is medically defined as passing stools less than three times a week. Constipated stools are usually hard and dry, and accompanied by straining to 'go'.

It can be a symptom of Crohn's disease, particularly if the intestine is narrowed. It can also be a side effect of medications- particularly narcotic painkillers.

If constipation comes on suddenly, and accompanied with severe abdominal pain or vomiting, it can be a sign of a blockage or obstruction, and medical help should be sought immediately.

Treatment options


There are many methods that are commonly suggested for the treatment of constipation. Sufferers of constipation who also have IBD should be cautious with implementing any dietary change as it might trigger other symptoms, including cramping and bloating.

Increased fiber intake


A common cure given for constipation is encouraging the sufferer to eat more fiber. For people affected by IBD, increasing fiber consumption (specifically insoluble fiber consumption) can cause additional IBD symptoms due to the difficulty digesting foods high in fiber.

Studies have found constipation to be linked with low fiber intake so it is important that IBD sufferers consume enough fiber in forms that they can tolerate.

Most fruits and vegetables contain fiber. Boiling and steaming can help breakdown the fiber, making the foods easier to digest.

Psyllium Husk can also be taken as a supplement to increase your intake of soluble fiber. Psyllium husk is the main ingredient in Metamucil, which is an over the counter treatment for constipation.

When taking any fiber supplement or increasing your intake of foods with fiber, it is extremely important to increase your liquid intake also. A study found that increased fiber intake accompanied by an increase in liquid intake (closer to 2 liters per day) was associated with a higher frequency of bowel movements in people with chronic constipation [1]

Increased fat intake


Anecdotally, people on a low-fat diet may suffer from constipation. Increasing fat intake may help relieve constipation. Supplementing with fish oil or flax seed oil can be an effective way to increase your fat intake while getting the health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acid consumption.

Increased exercise


Excercise has been found to improve the frequency of bowel movements in people complaining of constipation [2]

It is important that people with IBD do not overly exert themselves, as this can bring on additional IBD symptoms. Low intensity activities should be attempted first (for example: walking).

Laxatives

Stool Softeners

References


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