Let's talk about constipation

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Let's talk about constipation
Let's talk about constipation

When do we talk about constipation? What should you do when it becomes bothersome in daily life? Constipation can be a genuine concern for individuals who suffer from it daily, especially among seniors. Whether it's a passing discomfort or a chronic issue, solutions exist, and taboos should not prevent us from improving our quality of life.

Is constipation serious?

Constipation is not inherently serious. It affects many people at one time or another and is common among the elderly. For some, it can become an unfounded obsession that might exacerbate the problem and sometimes lead to the dangerous abuse of laxatives for health. Out of fear of not having regular bowel movements, people may tend to monitor their trips to the restroom, anticipating intervals they consider too long. It's important to note that functional constipation is only diagnosed when at least two of the following criteria are present over a consecutive three-month period. This is based on the Rome III classification:

- Straining during defecation
- Hard or lumpy stools
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Feeling of anorectal blockage or obstruction
- Manual maneuvers or digital assistance required for defecation
- Fewer than three bowel movements per week

Contrary to common belief, it is not always necessary to have a bowel movement every day, and this mistaken notion can create unnecessary stress, which itself can disrupt the natural function of the intestine. While constipation does not lead to severe illness or pose a risk of poisoning or obstruction, it should still be taken seriously. It can cause real discomfort in daily life, pain, and sometimes require hospitalization to relieve the patient. Additionally, it's important to be alert to any specific signs such as blood in the stool, severe abdominal pain, or pronounced narrowing. In such cases, the doctor will conduct various examinations to rule out any underlying diseases.

Why are the elderly more prone to constipation?

With age, the aging cells in our body make the digestive system less efficient. This natural factor can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle habits. Older individuals may tend to become more sedentary. However, regular walking or any other daily physical activity stimulates intestinal function and facilitates bowel movements.

What can be done about constipation?

Good lifestyle habits

Aside from specific cases of anorectal dysfunction or constipation as a symptom of a disease or as a side effect of medication, a good lifestyle can significantly influence our intestines. It is advisable not to wait until faced with constipation difficulties to act but rather to regularly ensure a diet rich in fruits and fibers. Additionally, some foods, such as prunes, well-known for their laxative effect, can promote regular bowel movements. Avocado, on the other hand, has the property of softening stools, making them easier to pass. Drinking plenty of water and engaging in regular physical activity or daily activities is also recommended. In some cases and on an occasional basis, certain fast-acting laxatives can be used for relief. However, they should not be overused, and medical advice should be sought.

Maintain a positive outlook

As mentioned earlier, psychological factors can also play a role. Several studies have shown that anxious, depressed, or stressed individuals are more likely to suffer from chronic constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome, more common in anxious temperaments, leads to frequent constipation. Through relaxation techniques and medical guidance, psychological factors of constipation can be addressed.

Aloe vera, a natural remedy for constipation

Aloe Vera is a plant with many virtues. Cultivated for a long time and well-known for its numerous health and beauty benefits, it is effective against constipation. In this case, the plant's sap is used, not the gel often used in cosmetics. A powerful laxative, it can be used on an occasional basis but should not be taken long-term as it can become irritating. Aloe Vera sap is available in pharmacies or herbal shops, but it is better to avoid self-medication and seek advice from your primary care physician or a healthcare professional.

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