Contributors: Thomas Yeum and Dr. Emran of Simple Health Radio
In this episode of Simple Health Radio, Dr. Emran discusses constipation. He begins with a case study and continues with a thorough explanation of symptoms and ways to decrease them.
“Josephina” is a 55-year-old healthy female who presents to the emergency clinic with severe abdominal pain, bloating, and inability to eat or use the restroom for several days. She had recently been involved in a car accident and was not injured severely, but had been prescribed medications to ease her pain. She had no history of medical issues or surgeries.
The only clear lead that Dr. Emran had been given was the possibility that the opioid medication could be affecting her digestion since her other tests all came out negative for other causes.
Peristalsis is the normal form of digestion as smooth muscle expands and contracts to slide food down the intestinal tract. In normal situations, the body would not experience constipation or slowed bowel movement, but the introduction of several conditions can cause this.
When opioids bind to intestinal receptors, they have a tendency to slow down digestion, triggering this to be the primary cause for Josephina’s discomfort. With the doctor’s help, she was soon discharged from the emergency center with a clear bowel and an answer to why she was experiencing constipation.
An abundance of iron can cause constipation due to its metallic properties which causes a slow-down of digestion. Many women take iron supplements to increase hemoglobin production necessary for delivery. Iron is, therefore, a common culprit. Other reasons for hard stools include high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, diabetes, cancer, and fissures of the intestine.
Fortunately, methods to alleviate these symptoms are available, including fiber supplements, anti-gas medicine, and enemas.
For a more natural way of ridding these symptoms, one can exercise (Dr. Emran recommends walking), consume more fiber-rich foods (including prunes, dates, and figs), increase water intake, and eat a spoonful of honey in the morning to soften up the walls of the intestines.
Constipation is a very common issue affecting many people. However, due to the wide variety of solutions, this condition is easily preventable.
Constipation affects 20% of Americans, causing over 8 million doctor visits per year.
Dehydration can cause constipation. Adequate water intake is important to prevent constipation.
Probiotics can help prevent constipation.
Prunes have a sugar alcohol called “sorbitol” which has a laxative effect.
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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. Dr. Emran and Simple Health Radio do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, consults, or any other information that may be mentioned on this website or radio podcast.
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