Constipation

What's Constipation?

 
Common symptoms include:

  • Infrequent, difficult passage of stools i.e. traditionally less than three times a week (1 or more bowel movements /day is optimal for people with constipation)

  • Sudden and significant decrease in the frequency of bowel movements

  • Stools harder than normal, possibly impacted

  • A sensation of incomplete bowel emptying

  • Bloated sensation.

Constipation may occur at any age, and most people will experience constipation sometime in life, but it is more frequent in infancy, in women and its prevalence increases with age.

Types of Constipation:

Primary or Functional constipation is a long term condition and is not uncommon – it affects approximately 14% of the world’s population. 

There are three types of Functional constipation: 

  • Normal transit constipation

    • ​This is the most common type of constipation however the cause is unclear and can differ from person to person. 

    • Diet, lifestyle, behavioural and psychological factors may be involved in the cause of symptoms.

    • Changes in the gut microbiome can affect the function of the digestive tract, resulting in constipation.

    • There may also be changes in diet or physical inactivity and inadequate fluid intake.

 

  • Rectal evacuation disorders

    • ​Emptying the rectum requires coordination of the rectal and abdominal wall muscles, the anal sphincters, and the pelvic floor muscles.

    • This condition occurs when the coordination of these muscles is impaired in some way which can occur from an acquired and learned behavioural problem, often resulting from dysfunctional toilet habits.

  • Slow transit constipation 

    • There may be a limited, or absent, decrease in gut motility of the large intestine after eating food, caused by irregularities of the nervous system in the gut wall. The unusually slow passage of waste through the large intestine leads to long term constipation and perhaps uncontrollable soiling.

Secondary constipation:


Constipation can occur secondary to other conditions such as:

  • neurological conditions, such as Parkinson disease and multiple sclerosis

  • endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism and hypercalcaemia

  • some prescribed medications

 

Blood tests for thyroid function and calcium may be considered, as well as testing for coeliac disease.  Coeliac disease is commonly associated with symptoms of diarrhoea, weight loss and abdominal pain, however, is also associated with constipation. 


In the first instance, you should seek advice from your medical doctor if you have unexplained weight loss or rectal bleeding, along with your constipation.


Related conditions:


Constipation is also associated with other types of gastrointestinal conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, indigestion, diverticular disease, gastrointestinal reflux disease, SIBO.

Natural treatment for constipation:

There are many reasons (underlying causes) for constipation and so there is no 'one size fits all' natural treatment approach that will work for everyone.


To work out what natural treatments are likely to be effective I gather as much information about you as I can to understand what could be happening for you. I do this by talking with you about your symptoms and understanding other possible contributing factors such as your diet and other lifestyle and health considerations.


In some circumstances, some testing may be helpful to help identify possible underlying causes.

 

Treatments for constipation tend to consider the following aspects:

  • What you’re eating and drinking 

  • Consideration of lifestyle factors such as movement, stress, sleep.

  • Where needed to help promote proper gastrointestinal function, supplementation to support your particular circumstances, such as the use of prebiotics and probiotics, liver support, vitamins and minerals, herbs.

  • Identification and treatment of secondary conditions


I work with you to work out achievable ways of helping to relieve and treat your specific condition. 


Need support for constipation?

Constipation can make you feel uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally, and can affect your quality of life.

 
You may have found that some typical or commonly recommended treatments do not work for you. Leaving you feeling confused about what you can do about it.  

If you would like to understand what you can do to be in control of your bowel movements and overall health and wellbeing, I would love to work with you.

 

References:
Black, C. J. and Ford, A. C. (2018), Chronic idiopathic constipation in adults: epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and clinical management. Medical Journal of Australia, 209: 86-91. doi:10.5694/mja18.00241


Frattini, J. C., & Nogueras, J. J. (2008). Slow transit constipation: a review of a colonic functional disorder. Clinics in colon and rectal surgery, 21(2), 146–152. doi:10.1055/s-2008-1075864


https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/slow-transit-constipation

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2011/0801/p299.html

CONTACT

Sharelle Parry Naturopath

 

Suite 301, Level 3, 180 Queen Street

Brisbane Q 4000

(in the Queen Street Mall above Country Road)

P: 0424 997 871

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by appointment,

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