Constipation in elderly is becoming an increasingly common condition. As we age, our body undergoes various changes, and decreasing efficiency of digestive system is one of them. Unhealthy eating habits or changes in the diet can further slow down digestive processes, leading to constipation.
Constipation is the inability or difficulty to pass a bowel movement. Although there is no right number of bowel movements you should have, each person has a general understanding of what they deem as “regular.” A regular bowel movement is passed with ease, so if you’re straining or spending too much time in the bathroom, you could very well be constipated.
Constipation is not a disease on its own, but rather a symptom of something else that is going on. Let’s take a look at the common causes and treatments for constipation, so you can get going once again.
There are numerous factors that play a role in constipation, but the good news is, many of them can be easily addressed with lifestyle changes. Common causes of constipation include:
- Diet: A diet poor in fiber – along with foods you cannot tolerate – can contribute to constipation. Eating too much of processed or sugary foods, as well as having dental problems (which reduce the ability to properly chew food) can all contribute to constipation.
- Laxative overuse: Although laxatives can help you go, overusing them can do the opposite and lead to constipation. This is because your body becomes dependent on laxatives to have a bowel movement, so when you don’t take them you get backed up.
- Lack of exercise: Not exercising regularly, or being bed-ridden for medical reasons, can contribute to constipation.
Holding back: Holding in a bowel movement can lead to constipation and delay the actual release.
- Medical conditions: Constipation, as mentioned, is often a symptom of another health condition. Stroke, diabetes, IBS, and IBD, all cite constipation as a symptom.
- Medications: Some medications list constipation as a side effect, especially if you do not take them correctly. Iron supplements, diuretics, and some painkillers, to name a few, can all contribute to constipation.
Constipation in old age: Treatment and home remedies
As you can see, constipation can have both lifestyle and medical causes, and knowing the cause of your constipation can help you obtain relief. You can relieve constipation by adding more fiber into your diet, properly chewing your food, exercising regularly, avoiding unhealthy food, not taking laxatives, and drinking plenty of water.
If your constipation is a result of your medication, you may want to speak to your doctor about another medication you can take. Make sure you are taking your meds properly to reduce the risk of constipation.
If constipation is a result of a medical condition, your doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment option.
A recent study also found that chronic constipation may be relieved by acupuncture. In the study conducted over the course of eight weeks, the researchers administered electroacupuncture, which is a form of acupuncture that involves electrical stimulation. After eight weeks, participants experienced significant relief from symptoms related to constipation and improved their quality of life.
If you’re concerned about your bowel movements, you should speak to your doctor to uncover the exact cause and address it effectively.