Most people don’t realize that there are many different causes of constipation. It’s not just about your diet or how much fiber you eat. In fact, almost everyone has had at least one bout with constipation in their life.
In this article, we look at several life stages affected by constipation and those affected by it.
How constipation affects adults
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints, affecting nearly 1 in 5 adults. The condition can have a variety of causes including diet, medication use, lifestyle habits, and underlying medical conditions. Treatment for constipation depends on the cause but may include dietary changes, and increased intake of fluids or fiber supplements to help promote bowel movements.
The use of probiotics has also been proposed as an effective treatment option for chronic idiopathic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C).
Probiotics are live bacteria that are thought to provide health benefits when taken in adequate amounts. If you suffer from IBS-C and want to explore the potential benefits of probiotic supplementation you should consult your healthcare provider before taking any product containing live bacteria.
How constipation affects pregnant women
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to have constipation, which can cause a variety of symptoms. One symptom that may be overlooked is the effect on the unborn child. It has been found that constipation in pregnant women can lead to an increased chance of premature birth and low birth weight.
Constipation can lead to extreme discomfort, bloating, abdominal pain, and even bleeding from the rectum. It may also increase your risk of developing hemorrhoids or giving birth prematurely because constipation causes the uterus to exert more pressure on the bowels and colon than usual.
Constipation can be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, reduced physical activity due to morning sickness or backache, inadequate food intake (especially fiber), slow transit time through the gastrointestinal tract, lack of fluids such as water or juice, too much caffeine consumption and certain medications such as anti-depressants.
Some people with chronic constipation will experience temporary relief while taking laxatives but once they stop their symptoms return.
How constipation affects those with lactose or gluten issues
Many people suffer from constipation, but for some, it can be much worse. Those who are lactose or gluten intolerant experience more pain and discomfort with the condition because of the difficulty they have in digesting certain foods.
Those who have problems digesting lactose or gluten should avoid any probiotics that contain these ingredients – otherwise, they will likely only cause further digestive upset. Instead, there are gluten-free alternatives available that can help to increase good bacteria levels in your gut. Choose these probiotics instead.
How constipation affects those taking antibiotics
Constipation is a common problem for those taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria in the gut, which can lead to constipation. It’s even more likely that you’ll experience constipation if your diet is high in refined sugars or low-fiber foods. If you’re on an antibiotic and noticing changes in bowel habits, talk with your doctor about adding fiber supplements to your diet.
If you are taking antibiotics, it’s best to wait until the treatment is finished before taking probiotics, because this type of medication kills the good bacteria as well as the bad. Foods that are rich in probiotics can sometimes be tolerated better than supplements so if you plan to take any then try yogurt or other dairy products first.
How constipation affects children
A common misconception is that constipation only affects adults. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, children are more susceptible to digestive problems than adults and can develop severe health issues if their condition is left untreated.
Children who suffer from chronic constipation often experience stomach pain, bloating, gas, and other uncomfortable symptoms that will continue until they receive treatment for their condition.
It’s important to note that many of these conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease in children may not show any physical signs or symptoms until it has progressed significantly; this can lead to a delay in diagnosis and treatment which could result in complications like malnutrition or growth stunting.
How constipation affects the elderly
Constipation affects the elderly and can lead to a number of different serious health problems. It can cause dehydration, which is dangerous for anyone but especially so for seniors who are already at risk for other health issues. Constipation also slows down bowel movements, which causes toxic material in the colon to build up.
This creates pressure on the walls of the intestines that could eventually result in intestinal obstruction or rupture, leading to life-threatening complications such as sepsis or peritonitis.
How does one take probiotics for constipation?
Research studies have tested the effects of certain types of probiotics on constipation and IBS-C, but it is important to note that not all strains or formulations may effectively lower symptoms of these conditions.
Specific recommendations on dosing and duration of use depend on the specific product and research study. In clinical trials for IBS-C, the most effective strains and doses were as follows:
- In a multi-center, double-blind randomized trial of 171 adults with IBS symptoms, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 at a dose of 1 x 10 9 colony forming units (CFU) daily for 8 weeks was more effective than placebo at improving weekly spontaneous bowel movements (SBMs) and reducing abdominal pain, among other measures.
- In another double-blind study of 116 adults with IBS, B. infantis 35624 at a dose of 1 x 10 9 CFU daily for 4 weeks significantly reduced the proportion of patients with constipation compared to placebo.
- A review of 6 randomized controlled trials of probiotics in IBS-C reported that 5 of the 6 studies showed improved symptom scores over placebo, with B. infantis or Lactobacillus rhamnosus being most frequently studied. The study authors concluded that further large-scale clinical trials are needed to provide concrete recommendations about how to effectively use probiotics for IBS-C.
What are the benefits and risks?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has not officially endorsed any particular strain or dose of probiotics as a treatment for constipation or IBS-C, so talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
In most cases, non-prescription probiotics are considered safe to consume. In some people, including those with a history of yeast infections or severe gastrointestinal symptoms(such as bleeding), the use of probiotics may result in the overgrowth of bacteria normally present in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to increased symptoms.
Probiotic pills and foods containing live bacteria should always be kept refrigerated to reduce the risk of bacterial overgrowth. Some types of live bacteria may be contraindicated for people with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications. If you suffer from IBS-C and want to explore the potential benefits of probiotic supplementation you should consult your healthcare provider before taking any product containing live bacteria.
Before using any dietary supplements for constipation or IBS-C, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider. Since there are multiple causes of these conditions, you should be prepared to discuss all of the potential benefits and risks associated with different treatment options.
If you are considering taking a probiotic supplement while on other medications, make sure to consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider first to avoid drug-to-drug interactions.
Taking probiotics for constipation may offer an alternative solution to the use of stimulant laxatives.
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