Anti aging guide

Constipation and Diet



What causes constipation and how to resolve the problem of it?

Many elderly people worry unnecessarily about their bowels. It should be appreciated that not everybody has their bowels open each day-the actual frequency of bowel clearance is not important, but regularity is. For some people it is normal for their bowels to move only on every third day, and for others on alternate days or a similar pattern. There should only be concern if the pattern changes or the motions become difficult to pass. Small hard motions are the most difficult to evacuate. Poor dietary habits are the most frequent cause of constipation, and the simplest method of correction is to increase the amount of fibrous bulk in the food; fruit, vegetables(especially beans), and bran and wholemeal bread and flour are items in the diet which need to be increased.

Constipation can occur as a side-effect of many drugs. Analgesics(especially codeine derivatives), antidepressants and the older anti-parkinsonian drugs are particularly guilty. The abuse of violent purgatives during a long life can leave the bowel exhausted, flabby, and unable to work properly. Imbalance of the body’s chemistry and glands can also lead to constipation. High calcium levels due to hyperactivity of the parathyroid gland is a rare but significant cause. Underactivity of the thyroid gland (myxoedema) is a more common cause of constipation but once identified is easily corrected.

Constipation can be an early presenting symptom of obstruction of the lower bowel. It is for this reason that it must be taken seriously if it arises as a new symptom in later life. The necessary investigations (sigmoidoscopy and barium enema examinations) are simple and the surgical removal of an obstructing growth will be successful if no unnecessary delay has been allowed to occur.

If help is required to ensure comfortable bowel evacuation, a natural form of assistance is preferable. Simply increasing the bulk of the stools is often sufficient to resolve the problem of constipation, and this may be achieved by taking a diet with increased amount of fiber (such as bran, wholemeal bread, extra fruit and vegetables). Bulking preparations are also available-Celevac, Isogel, Fybogel, and Lactulose-which act by absorbing water when in the large bowel and thus increase the amount of residue to be excreted.

Stool softeners-such as dioctyl and Normax are also safe and effective; the latter also contains a small amount of gut stimulant. Preparations containing irritants such as phenolphthalein are best avoided, and lubricating substances such as liquid paraffin also have many undesirable side-effects so cannot be recommended.

Mild stimulating preparations such as senna and lubricants like milpar are also commonly used.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - May 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm