Few people will share their constipation problems with you (unless you’re a New York stranger and will share with anyone you meet). It may be their best kept secret.
Holiday time is for stuffing yourself with turkey and all the rich trimmings. If you’re one of those 15% of Americans with chronic constipation, the pain of those meals is yet to come. Constipation is most often defined as having a bowel movement less than 3 times per week. It usually is associated with hard stools or difficulty passing stools. Feelings of incomplete movements often result in physical pain and uncertainty. The satisfaction of holiday meals may leave you overstuffed. Complications that can arise from constipation include hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction.
Going to the bathroom seems to be very easy and most people enjoy normal patterns of bathroom activities from normal dietary sources. Then there are those that can’t. They suffer from a condition called constipation. Constipation is one of the most common GI chronic problems in the United States, affecting an estimated 42 million people regardless of age or gender, or 15 percent of the population. Survey statistics seem to support that there are about up to 15% constipation sufferers worldwide.
Constipation may be a genetic condition but it is also found as a symptom for diseases like diabetes, heart illness, multiple myeloma, and other conditions that can be life threatening. Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that develops in plasma cells, the white blood cells that make antibodies. If you experience clinical, chronic constipation, you should do a comprehensive gastrointestinal exam. There are ways of reducing constipation and these need to be discussed with a physician as well.
People recommend that adding dietary fiber or eating high fiber foods help keep you naturally flowing. Constipation suffers still experience that inability to go even with huge amounts of dietary fiber. Some resort to laxatives that use a variety of methods to move waste through the gastrointestinal tract. Sales of laxatives account for about 20% of over-the-counter pharmacy sales in the USA. Some constipation sufferers resort to more direct methods such as enemas and suppositories, while others may elect surgeries.
Suppositories are globular, conical, cylindrical, or club-shaped solid bodies designed for introduction into the urethra, rectum, or vagina, in order to effect a therapeutically effective influence on a problem. Loosely, pills may also be seen as forms of suppositories. Rectal suppositories were made of glycerin or gelatin bases to provide less friction. Medications may be added. In the middle-ages suppositories were used as a means of inducing abortions.
Use of enemas go back to 1500BC in Egypt. Enemas are currently liquid solutions (usually forms of salt water) sprayed into the rectum to loosen colon waste. Suppositories are a type of medication that is in the form of a plug or capsule that is in a soft solid form for convenience. Suppositories aren’t exclusive to the rectum. They may be used in many other orifices, based on the illness or prescription. Both enemas and suppositories are generally looked with disdain but are recommended for extreme cases of chronic constipation.
In a pill-pushing society, oral laxatives are very popular but overuse can worsen the problem. You should also be aware how the laxative works to avoid further complications.
The more direct methods may be enemas that are inserted at the problem area. These are often salty solutions and target the problem at its source. Called Enema Administration it is often difficult to do without help from someone else. Enemas were once one of the common methods for cleaning the colon prior to a colonoscopy.
For more convenience, there’s the suppository. It is also inserted into the colon canal. It was once made of glycerin. Glycerin is a natural by-product of the soapmaking process and while commercial manufacturers remove the glycerin for use in their more profitable lotions and creams. Glycerin belongs to a class of drugs known as hyperosmotic laxatives. It works by drawing water into the intestines. This effect usually results in a bowel movement within 15 to 60 minutes, as compared with 6 to 12 hours with many oral laxatives at standard doses. The suppository is for rectal insertion only. Unlike an enema, self insertion is easier.
Some companies, like Dulcolax and Colace, add their laxatives to the glycerin suppository. They help facilitate the process of evacuation with stool softeners and added ingredients. Ihe active ingredient in Dulcolax is bisacodyl. Bisacodyl is used to treat constipation or to empty the bowels before surgery, colonoscopy, x-rays, or other intestinal medical procedure.
Those methods are manageable approaches to help get things moving along to relieve constipation. In some very extreme cases, ambulatory surgical or in-hospital stays are necessary when blockages are very painful.
When it comes to speedy relief for your constipation, think of that old method – the suppository.
There is no reason to suffer from constipation. See a specialist who can discuss the many widely available options to relieve and control your constipation. Ask about fiber and ask about pills or suppositories. There’s no need for embarrassment. 15% of the world’s population has it. It’s a formidable group. Your constipation will be our little secret. Have a happy holiday meal!