Some people with UC experience constipation and not diarrhea. Some experience bouts of both. Constipation in UC patients has to be watched. A condition called Toxic Mega Colon can occur. Though rare, it can be life threatening. More information is below.
Everyone has different bowel habits. Some adults have a bowel movement every day whereas others might go to the toilet just twice a week. A percentage of children pass stools a few times a week whereas some babies move their bowels two or three times daily. Sometimes there are changes in bowel habits and constipation can result.
What is Constipation?
People who find it difficult to pass stools (often called feces or poop) regularly are described as being constipated. Constipation is a common condition that affects adults and children alike. Many suffer from mild constipation that lasts for a short time, whereas others experience painful chronic constipation that can have a significant impact on their daily life. People who suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease often become constipated.
Constipation affects adults, children and babies, and women are more likely to become constipated than men. Elderly people often become constipated and a high percentage of pregnant women suffer from constipation.
The two main types of constipation are:
. Occasional constipation
. Chronic constipation
Causes of Constipation Include:
. A change in eating habits
. Eating a diet lacking in fiber
. Drinking insufficient fluids
. Withholding bowel movements
. Taking certain types of medication
. Certain Medical conditions
. Food reactions such as lactose intolerance
. Overuse of anti-diarrheal’s
. Medical conditions like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s
Common Symptoms Experienced by Constipated Adults Include:
. Abnormally large or small stools that may be difficult to pass
. The feces may be dry, lumpy and hard
. People who are constipated may feel bloated or nauseous
. Constipation can cause stomach cramp or tummy ache
. A constipated person may lose their appetite
Common Symptoms of Constipation in Children Include:
. Irritability or general unhappiness
. Lack of appetite
. Abdominal discomfort and pain
. The wind and stools smell foul
Here is a good book on constipation and natural remedies for children and infants
A change in lifestyle and diet may be all that is needed to cure constipation. People who experience difficulty passing stools may be advised to take laxatives or stool softeners. The chronically constipated whose feces have become impacted (this means that the dry hard stools have caused an obstruction in the rectum) may need a mini-enema or an anal suppository to help clear the bowel.
Best laxatives for constipation
Can Constipation cause Complications?
Constipated people rarely suffer any long-term health problems or complications. But those who suffer from long-term constipation may experience milder complications such as:
. Fecal Impaction
. Hemorrhoids (piles)
. Certain psychological effects
. Toxic megacolon (life threatening)
Megacolon Toxicum or Toxic Megacolon is a life-threatening complication resulting from inflammatory conditions of the colon such as the Ulcerative Colitis and IBS. It is the sudden and rapid widening of the large intestine and the colon shuts down. The colon basically inflates like a balloon and continues to inflate until treated and/or removed. The body becomes toxic because elimination of waste cannot occur. Those who suffer from occasional or chronic constipation may feel unwell and uncomfortable, but those conditions are easily treatable. People who have a toxic megacolon is a medical emergency and life-threatening.
This condition should not be confused with slower widening of the colon due to constipation from conditions such as acute colonic ileus, congenital or colonic dilation, pseudo-obstruction. These conditions occur without inflammation or infection.
What are the Symptoms of Toxic Megacolon?
. Pain in the abdomen
. A bloated or distended abdomen
. Tenderness of the stomach
. A fever
. A fast heartbeat (Tachycardia)
. Signs of Septic shock
What are the Complications of Toxic Megacolon?
. Septic shock
. A perforated colon
Treatment of Toxic Megacolon
Emergency treatment has to be administered immediately to decompress the bowel to prevent further distension. If this treatment fails to rectify the problem the patient may need to undergo a colectomy (a partial or full removal of the colon).