The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

APRIL  2005

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Constipation - the inside story

by BJ Armstrong

The first of April, some do say
Is set apart for All Fool's Day;
But why the people call it so
Nor I, nor they themselves, do know.
- From Robin's Almanac, 1760

This article will really move you...(maybe ..maybe not). Am I constipated if I don't go to the bathroom every day? Answer 'yes or no.'
Yes, I need to go to the bathroom every day.

April Fool!  No! you do not have to go to the bathroom every day. Officially, you're constipated if you have no more than two BM's (bowel movements) a week.

The first rule to prevent constipation is to heed nature's signals. If you ignore them often enough, you will end up constipated. When the feces have filled the lower colon and there is no room for more, they move to the rectum, ready to move. That's when the signal goes off to head to the bathroom.
Constipation, (real, perceived, or imagined) is five times more common over

B J Armstrong

the age of 65 than in the young. Even though, age itself does not alter bowel function. One-third of the elderly use laxatives regularly. Most people take laxatives because they feel the need to have a regular movement. Remember, you do not have to have a BM every day. Some do, some don't.

Your elimination pattern depends on:

* your diet
* how much you drink daily
* your metabolism

* medications taken
* medical problems
* elimination habits you form early in life.

The first rule to prevent constipation is not to wait too long to go...when you get the urge to go ..go! Adequate fiber intake increases the time so that waste products get out more quickly. Beans, fresh fruits, vegetables, and dried fruit,

such as raisins, prunes, and apricots are good to help move the bowels. The richest source of fiber is in bread and cereals. Drink plenty of fluids. Drink a full glass of water when taking pills, instead of a sip. A glass of water with lemon juice, or 4-6 oz. of prune juice in the morning will help your bowels get going.

Limit your constipation of 'binding' foods; bananas, cheeses, white rice, and white flour products. Drink plenty of nonalcoholic liquids. Many people find that caffeine-containing beverages such as tea, coffee, and colas have a laxative effect. Prunes and prune juice help to get things moving. Broccoli and sweet potatoes often help. Lubricants coat the stool to promote easier passage.

Mineral oil is the only FDA-approved ingredient. Stool softeners are just what the name implies. Milk of Magnesium is a good stool softener.

Enemas irrigate the bowel and act as lubricants and stimulants, but frequent use contribute to lazy bowel syndrome. Do not take laxatives for more than a month without seeing your doctor.

Although the vast majority of constipation is minor and can be self treated, the condition could be caused by other health problems. If constipation does not improve after a week of self-treatment, consult a physician.

The most common causes of constipation at any age are too little fiber and not enough liquids. But there are other contributing factors. To name a few: medication, depression, stroke, and lack of exercise. Also, there are the laxative abusers. These people develop a bowel that will function only when pushed to do so. Laxatives are big business. If you feel the need, take only the mildest form of laxative and for a short period of time.

Constipation is defined as two or less movements a week. However, any decrease in the number of movements, especially if its a hard, dry stool, is indicative of constipation. Most cases of constipation are due to one's lifestyle, not disease. The most contributing factors are too little water and fiber in the diet. Persistent constipation and alternating diarrhea should move you to...'go to the doctor.'

You may be disappointed
if you fail,
but you are doomed
if you don't try.

                      - Beverly Sills