In the U.S. emergency rooms are seeing more and more patients visiting due to constipation. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, constipation refers to having less than three bowel movements a week. Furthermore, it is estimated that 42 million Americans suffer from constipation at some point. Although constipation can be a matter that can be taken care of at home, people are heading over to their local hospitals to seek relief.
If you’ve ever experienced constipation, and I’m sure you have, you know how uncomfortable it can be. The pain, bloating, feelings of having to go but can’t. Worse yet, just sitting on a toilet hoping for relief. It can take quite a toll on your body and your life.
A new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that between 2006 to 2011, the number of hospital cases from constipation increased by 42 percent! Nearly half the American population over these five years checked themselves into a hospital because they couldn’t find relief from their constipation.
In 2011 alone, these constipation-related hospital visits cost the American health care system $1.6 billion. Helping people go to the bathroom is expensive…
But why are people heading to hospitals for their constipation? Although researchers of the study don’t know for sure, they hypothesize that it has to do with the severe abdominal pain that often comes with constipation. The truth is, constipation is not something to head to the emergency room for – there are means to find relief before you check yourself in.
Constipation is the hardening of stool which occurs when the colon absorbs too much water from food sources. When the stool moves slowly and loses water, it can dry up and therefore have a difficult time being released.
There are numerous reasons why someone may experience constipation. For starters, a lack of soluble fiber can lead to constipation. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk.
Lack of activity, especially in seniors, also can lead to feelings of being “backed up.” Food allergies, medical conditions, changes in routine, holding it in and dehydration are all other possible causes for constipation. So knowing what’s causing your constipation is a good start to finding relief.
If your constipation stems from your diet, enjoy foods high in fiber like bran, berries, avocados and apples. Furthermore, make sure you’re staying hydrated – not only will it ease digestion but fiber requires water to be effective.
If your constipation is from a food allergy or intolerance, get checked so you know which foods to avoid. Lastly, constipation can be a sign of a medical condition, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so if you find yourself not going for more than a week, seeing a doctor for some testing is a wise choice.
On the other hand, constipation should not be treated with laxatives. Overuse of laxatives is hard on your digestive system and can lead to serious health risks.
Using these natural means to treat your constipation is effective and safe, and may help you avoid the ER. But, if you do experience vomiting, the inability to pass gas and severe pain, you may have more than constipation and rather an abdominal obstruction. So knowing the difference can save you a night in the ER and resting more comfortably at home.