Heartburn, Constipation and Bloating: Tummy Troubles are No Joke
Be it a festival, a holiday feast or a big weekend with lots of food and fun – one constant problem which haunts the majority of people after fun time is constipation and bloating. The symptoms of tummy problems appear shortly after you binge on a grand feast, but for some, it is a constant inconvenience. The stomach often does not process the food as fast as it should, and so it starts building up in the stomach, which causes a host of problems.
According to experts, constipation is due to a delay in the bowel movements. The building up of waste and the gas produced due to constipation causes bloating. Bloating is commonly a result of constipation, and several people who complain about bloating symptoms have some symptoms of constipation, too. Thus, it becomes necessary to treat bloating and constipation together to get permanent relief from the problem.
Why Does Constipation Result in Bloating?
Bowel movement varies from person to person. For some people, it is once a day and for others, it is twice or thrice a day. Constipation is a condition where a person is not able to clean their bowels on time.
A large amount of stools stay accumulated inside the intestine when you are constipated; thus there is immense bacterial fermentation in the undigested fiber of the stools. This bacterial fermentation produces gas and acidity, which stays trapped in the intestines and causes a bloated stomach.
Note: If people are having regular bowel movements and still experiencing bloating, then they are dealing with a latent constipation. Here, the bowel is cleared, but not completely and the leftover stools therefore make the person feel bloated.
Common Symptoms When You Have Constipation and Bloating
Here are a few other symptoms of constipation:
1. Stools Fewer Than Three Times a Week
Bowel movements are different for each individual. For some, it can be thrice a day for others it can be thrice a week – both being normal; however, when a person has bowel movements less than thrice a week, it is clearly constipation.
2. Hard Stools
It is quite common in constipation for the person to get lumpy or hard stools. This is because the stools have been lying in the large intestine for too long, and the excess water has dried out. The dried stools now become hard and difficult to pass, thus resulting in pain, and sometimes bleeding, while pushing it out.
3. Straining with Bowel Movements
Straining to get a bowel movement has its own disadvantages, which may not sound relevant today, but have an adverse effect in old age. Your muscles, which are associated with the intestines may suffer damage when you strain and create pressure to excrete. It is not simple to cure this damage.
Even when you have started to take care of your eating and toilet habits, the damage isn’t properly repaired immediately. Apart from the pain in the anus from straining, it can create severe problems like muscle breaking or a ruptured aneurysm. This is why you should eat a combination of soluble and insoluble food to form healthy stools, which pass with ease through the rectum and the anus.
4. Bowel Obstruction Preventing the Bowel Movement
A bowel obstruction occurs when there is a blockage, which prevents stool excretion through the digestive tract. The blockage can be due to several reasons, such as:
- Blockage due to hard stools that don’t move.
- Swelling, which is blocking the path.
- A tumor inside the digestive tract, which is blocking the path.
- Sometimes, it can occur from inside too, when an organ causes compression or twists a part of the bowel. It can cause you to have bloating issues, along with some swelling and pain.
5. Incomplete Bowel Movements Could Be the Cause of Your Uncomfortable Feelings
When people have a complete bowel movement, they feel relieved and light. On the other hand, if one is not able to fully excrete, the urge to pass the stool remains. The incomplete bowel movement can happen because of many reasons, such as constipation, pain in the anus, anxiety and disturbances while defecating.
Understanding the Reasons for Constipation and Bloating
The probable reasons for constipation and bloating can be:
1. Antacid Medicines With Calcium and Aluminum
Often, after a heavy meal, you may experience belching and heartburn. In order to get immediate relief, people often resort to antacid pills. You may be surprised to know that the antacid, which contains calcium and aluminum, are the ones causing constipation.
The formation of milk-alkali syndrome makes it difficult for the food to process properly, and does not cause a complete bowel movement.
2. A Sudden Change in Diet
When you start a new diet plan and completely discontinue your previous one, your body takes time to adjust to the type of diet you are taking. In certain instances, it causes changes in bowel movements too.
It is particularly prominent in those diets where you initially used to have heavy food, but suddenly replace it with fruits and vegetables. Your body is unable to handle this drastic change in your diet, and thus, doesn’t process the food in the same way as it used to do. This, in turn, results in lesser bowel movements or constipation.
3. Colon Cancer
When the processed stools enter the colon, they are smooth and run through the rectum properly, until the colon starts absorbing excess water and starts making the stools hard. When your stools became too hard and block the passage, they can often cause a rise in colon cancer.
People who are affected by colon cancer often deal with constipation, bloating, nausea and a severe pain in abdomen every now and then. Thus, if you are experiencing these symptoms consistently, it is vital that you go for tests in order to rule out the possibility of colon cancer.
4. A Lot of Dietary Products in the Diet
Dietary products don’t provide fiber; thus, they contribute to increase the constipation problem. While you must be thinking of how dietary products can harm you, take the example of cheese: it has practically no fiber and is difficult to digest, and as a result, this can trigger constipation.
In order to pass stools, your abdominal muscles should contract and expand to cause a movement in the bowel. The level of calcium in your muscles increases when you consume food products such as dairy and milk with lots of calcium. With an increased deposit of calcium, it becomes difficult for the muscles to contract and expand. This causes incomplete bowel movements or none at all, which leads to constipation.
5. Eating Disorders Worsen Constipation
When you have a fixed eating schedule and a chosen diet, the body acknowledges the diet and has its processing in the same way. But, when you change your diet or develop an eating disorder, your body adjusts to this change easily. When your body does not get the required food at the set time, it starts to have digestive problems, such as constipation.
It is vital that you control your eating habits and take the treatment for eating disorder, if you are suffering from it. Laxatives may help to clear the blockage in the rectum; however, when used excessively and for a long time, they can be harmful to the body.
6. Neurological Disorders
Neurological disorders can also be a big reason for constipation because these diseases affect the muscle movements largely. When you are dealing with Parkinson’s disease, your brain is unable to send the information about muscle movements to other parts of your body; thus making it difficult for you to have a complete bowel movement at times.
7. A Sluggish Lifestyle
When you are not working out or exercising regularly, your body accumulates a lot of toxins, which harm you in the long run.
Exercising improves your blood circulation, nervous activity and body movements. It helps you to digest your food properly and assists in getting better bowel movements. When you exercise, your body produces healthy hormones, which eliminate a lot of health problems from your lives.
A regular and healthy diet, along with exercise, can surely make way for better bowel movements.
8. Too Many Laxatives Can Weaken Bowel Movements in the Long Run
Laxatives are fiber supplements, which can relieve constipation and help in getting regular bowel movements. A lot of people opt for laxatives, because of the inconvenience caused due to constipation.
While one can make use of laxatives at times to get rid of the constipation problem, excessive consumption of laxatives can be harmful in the long run. It is vital that you choose a healthy fibrous diet, drink a lot of water and do regular exercises before opting for laxatives.
When you constantly take laxatives to regularize your bowels, your body becomes dependent on them. In the long run, laxatives affect the natural working of your body and make the constipation problem even worse.
9. Ignoring the Urge to Have a Bowel Movement
It is common for people to ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. This mainly happens because of time and place restrictions. Some people are not comfortable using toilets anywhere outside their house. Others tend to ignore their body’s signals to empty the bowel because of time constraints. They usually hold the urge until they get a suitable place and time to clear their bowels.
When you hold the urge of bowel movements, your body forms harder stools, which are difficult to pass. You strain your abdominal muscles in order to evacuate your bowels, and this causes later damage.
In some severe cases, the pressure builds up so much that it results in involuntary defecation, as your body overrides the ability to “hold it in.”
10. Irritable Bowel Syndrome With Constipation
There are times when you could experience different bowel movements on the same day. For instance, you could sometimes have hard stools while, at other times, you may have soft stools. This inconsistent nature of the stools can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, which can worsen constipation.
Inconsistency in bowels is due to several reasons, such as having an inconsistent diet or eating junk food, which your body is unable to digest easily.
11. No Water or Fiber in the Diet
Drinking lots of water and having fibrous food such as fruits, vegetables and cereals are necessary for the optimum functioning of your digestive system, and regularizing of good bowel movements.
When your diet lacks water, fiber and nutrient-rich foods, your digestive system becomes exhausted and stops to function properly. Junk or processed foods are acidic in nature, and thus cause symptoms, such as heartburn and vomiting.
Specifically, the absence of fiber in the food causes harder stools, which are difficult to evacuate through the rectum.
12. Constipation and Bloating in Early Pregnancy
Constipation and bloating are early signs of pregnancy. Your pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on your digestive system, and thus they become sluggish in nature. The abdominal muscles get into relaxing mode and do not push the waste product towards the rectum.
The only advantage of this sluggish activity is that the food remains in your digestive tract for longer, and provides nourishment to the growing baby.
13. An Underlying Thyroid: Hypothyroidism
Constipation is one of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism. When your body lacks thyroid hormones, many of its functions slow down. Hypothyroidism decelerates the action of the digestive tract causing constipation.
Constipation starts with stress, anxiety and neurosis, just like all other ailments or body breakdowns. Chronic and sporadic stress disturbs systematic bowel movements and cause constipation. Here is how to do this:
- During stress, your body suppresses the gastrocolic reflex. It is an unconscious action by the gastrointestinal tract that leads a bowel movement.
- Stress caused by an upcoming event, wedding, job issues, relationship problems make you suppress the urge to move your bowels.
- Heavy stress causes diarrhea that, in turn, interrupts bowel movements and results in constipation.
15. Medications and Side-Effects
Medications are an essential cause of constipation. A few of such medicines are:
- Codeine, oxycodone and hydromorphone, which are used for narcotic pain.
- Medications for antidepressants such as imipramine and amitriptyline.
- Certain iron supplements.
General Treatment Options for Constipation
When you are constipated, you will feel uneasy and irritated. Finding out the cause may help in solving the problem and getting better bowel movements. You can try to cure it with the help of following constipation and bloating relief treatments:
1. Drink Lots of Water
The first step to overcoming your constipation issue is drinking more water. More than 65 percent of human cells comprises of water. When you do not take in enough water, your cells are not metabolizing normally.
The lack of water in your body also makes it acidic, because of the increase in the concentration of acidic digestive juices. This often results in the formation of hard stools, which are difficult to pass through the rectum. A high content of acid in your stomach also makes you nauseated.
Try drinking at least eight glasses of water daily, and you shall see an improvement in your effort to overcome constipation. Your body will get rid of harmful toxins and make your stools soft and you will pass easily through the rectum.
2. Drink Warm Liquids in the Morning
Drinking warm water in the morning on an empty stomach works to regularize your bowel movements and cure constipation. This is because warm water breaks down food and allows it to pass easily through the intestines. Stimulating the bowels will help return your body back to normal, and this will cure constipation and abdominal bloating issues.
In addition, researchers have found that warmth has a specific biological activity, which is relatively easy to go through cell membranes, stimulate metabolism and improve immune function.
3. Add Fruits and Vegetables to your Diet
Fruits and vegetables bring fiber into your body, which helps in better digestion of food.
When your body digest your food properly, softer stools are formed which are easy to pass though the rectum. Besides, eating healthy provides essential the nutrients needed for the proper functioning of the body.
4. Use Mild Stool Softeners or Laxatives
Laxatives are a common choice as a quick fix for constipation. They eliminate compacted waste collected in the bowels easily and naturally. You can choose mild stool softeners available in drugstores, and even magnesium hydroxide laxatives, which help constipation.
However, be aware that too much laxatives can be harmful. Take them once in a while to relieve mild constipation.
You can choose the IBS Relief System, since it is the best medicine for constipation and bloating. It combines the goodness of probiotics and enzymes, which work to restore harmony in your gut, by populating it with probiotics and improving your immunity. Probiotics are friendly bacteria, which strengthen your digestive functioning. The best thing is that this product does not contain harmful ingredients.
When to Call a Doctor for Constipation and Bloating Treatment
Constipation is a common problem and does not often need a doctor’s consultation until the symptoms are bearable. However, if you have been experiencing constipation for a long time and you are not getting relief from simple remedies, it might just be the right time to call your doctor. Here is when a doctor’s consultation is necessary:
- When you experience extreme stomach pain, followed by vomiting.
- If there are traces of blood in your stools.
- If you are dealing with severe weight loss along with constipation.
- When symptoms of bowel cancer or colon cancer are noticed.
- When you notice severe constipation and bloating before periods.
Simple Ways to Avoid Constipation
Prevention from constipation is possible, if you take care of your diet and lifestyle. You can choose to do the following:
- A Well-Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet is one which consists of plenty of fiber. Fiber helps in better processing of food and is present in fruits, vegetables and cereals. It helps increase the digestive power of the body and treats gas and bloating problems. Bran, in particular, is a rich fiber cereal and is extremely helpful in curing constipation.
- Drink Lots of Water: If your doctor has not prohibited you from drinking excess water, due to other medicinal reasons, experts recommend that you drink as much water as you can to keep your body clean and healthy. Water and fiber work together to help the stomach and intestines work smoothly, thus leading to a clean bowel movement.
- Avoid Caffeine as Much as Possible: Caffeine consumption causes dehydration in the body by reducing the water levels, which makes way for constipation. Decreasing the caffeine content in the body and drinking lots of water should help in clearing toxins from the body and experience a clean stomach.
- Dairy Products Are Best Avoided for Some People: Dairy products don’t suit every one’s digestive system. While some are able to digest them properly, others gain constipation. So, it is suitable to avoid dairy products as much as you can, in order to maintain a healthy digestive system.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercising has huge benefits for the body. It helps increase the muscle movement, improves the heart rate and stamina, aids in losing weight, reduces stress and increases metabolism. All these help in having better digestion and improving formation of softer stools, which are easy to pass through the rectum.
- Respond to Urge: Whenever you have an urge to have a bowel movement, do not ignore it. Give yourself time to excrete the defecated waste from the body as soon as you can for a healthier digestive system.
You can overcome the problems of constipation and bloating by eating healthy. Find out the foods that cause unpleasant symptoms and try to avoid them as much as possible. If the symptoms of constipation persist, seek attention from a qualified physician before they become complicated.