What You'll Learn Here:
Reviewing your diet and lifestyle and retraining your bowels will help with constipation in many cases.
Relief often comes from simple steps such as increasing your fiber, fluid and activity levels, and taking good care of your gut in other ways such as periodic colon and liver cleansing. However, if you still find that you are constipated, could there be another reason for your difficult bowel movements?
Here we take a look at some of the factors other than lifestyle and behavior that may be behind your constipation. Specifically – mood, medications, and overall health factors.
Your Mood Can Contribute To Constipation
If you suffer from depression, anxiety, another condition that affects your mood or you have experienced a traumatic event in the past, this may be the factor behind your constipation. The link between our mental and physical well-being is now much better appreciated and the way we feel is known to contribute to the development of a number of physical health problems. In relation to the health of our bowels, this may occur due to the fact that our digestive system is under the control of nerve impulses between the brain and the gut, so negative emotions may disrupt the usual contractions of the muscles in our digestive system.
While a visit to your doctor may be helpful to initiate the medical management of a mood disorder, it is important to be aware that certain antidepressants may themselves contribute to constipation.
Alternatively or in addition to a prescription medication, your doctor may arrange for you to attend a course of talking therapy sessions to help you better manage your mental health. However, there are steps that you can take yourself to boost your mood; eating a well-balanced diet and taking regular exercise will also help with this, as will participating in activities that will help to lift your mood or help you to relax.
Your Medications Can Contribute To Constipation
Antidepressants are a common cause of constipation, but aren’t the only medications to impact on your bowel health.
Opiates, such as codeine, Oxycontin and Vicodin, are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in America, with a recent study showing that from a sample 13% of people were prescribed an opiate drug. Not only does prescription addiction frequently occur with opiates, but use of these painkillers can lead to a number of digestive side-effects, which includes constipation. If you take opiates, food remains in your stomach for longer and it takes more time for undigested food to pass through your intestines.
Opiate use also reduces production of digestive enzymes and dampens the urge you receive to open your bowels.
Other prescription medications can additionally be an issue. If you take iron or calcium supplements, these can make your bowels more sluggish, as can antacids that contain aluminium. Water tablets, which are often prescribed if you have high blood pressure, and medication to treat seizures can also be a cause of constipation.
Natural colon and liver cleansing can work to gently ease constipation brought on by medications. Never discontinue a medication without first making an appointment with your doctor, as they will be able to decide whether an alternative drug may be more appropriate given your symptoms.
Your Overall Physical Health Can Contribute To Constipation
Sometimes there may be a physical health problem contributing to your lack of bowel movements. Certain bowel disorders, such as IBS, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer, can have constipation as a symptom, but it would be unusual for you not to have additional digestive symptoms if this were the case and while IBS is relatively common, the other conditions are rare.
A number of neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, can also affect the movement of food through your digestive system, owing to the fact that they interfere with the nerve impulses that trigger muscle contraction. However, you would typically have a number of other neurological systems accompanying constipation in these conditions.
Perhaps more surprisingly, an underactive thyroid, which affects close to 5% of the US population to some degree, can slow bowel movements. The link between reduced levels of thyroid hormones and constipation is thought to relate to the fact that as metabolic processes slow down in general, so does digestion; this would likely accompany weight gain, feeling the cold, tiredness and cognitive problems.
Natural approaches such as colon and liver cleansing has been shown for centuries to help relieve constipation. However, if you have developed a range of symptoms and you are concerned that there could be a medical cause to your constipation, make an appointment to see your doctor. They will be able to run the necessary tests to determine whether this is the case.