Men's Health: Constipation; A Strain for Men

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Most men speak about a lot of things but bowel movements, bowel function is not a “guy thing,” but chronic constipation sure is, particularly for older men. Here are some things you should know about a topic you may never talk about outside your doctor’s office. One of the biggest concern regarding gut health is constipation.

Even without any complications, the discomfort associated with chronic constipation provides good reason to seek treatment

  • What is constipation?

    There is no exact definition but mostly, having constipation means one or more of the following:

    • Bowel movements too infrequently (typically fewer than three times a week), 
    • Hard or small, lumpy stools
    • Stools that are hard to pass, straining
    • Painful bowel movements, or having the sensation of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement

    Some of the causes of constipation in men?

    • Lifestyle factors, including lack of dietary fiber, consuming too few calories, lack of exercise, and dehydration
    • Medications, including aluminum-containing antacids, calcium-channel blockers, antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, narcotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticholinergics, and anti-Parkinson’s disease agents
    • Some dietary Supplements, including iron and calcium
    • Endocrine disorders, including diabetes and an underactive thyroid gland
    • Metabolic imbalances, including low potassium levels and high calcium levels
    • Neurologic disorders, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord disorders
    • Psychological problems, including depression and anxiety
    • Bowel diseases, including tumors, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, strictures (scarring), and rectal disorders

    Consequences of constipation

    • Hemorrhoids are the most common; they are swollen rectal veins that can cause rectal bleeding or, if they become clotted (thrombosed), severe rectal pain. 
    • The combination of straining and hard stools can tear rectal tissue, producing anal fissures that are so painful that patients avoid moving their bowels. In older men (and women).
    • Hard, dry stools can become impacted (trapped) in the rectum, preventing normal bowel movements.
    • Straining can also push rectal tissue out through the anus; these rectal prolapses may require surgical repair. 
    • low-fiber diets typically associated with chronic constipation are associated with diverticulosis and diverticulitis, common colon disorders that can cause bleeding or inflammation with pain and fever.

Preventing and treating constipation: Lifestyle

Simple lifestyle changes can prevent or treat many cases of chronic constipation. Four things are important:

  1. Dietary fiber 

Fiber is important for bowel function and general health, but it can be hard to get used to. Many people feel bloated and gassy when they start a high-fiber diet, but if they stick with it, these side effects usually diminish within a month or so. Still, it’s best to ease into a high-fiber diet. Increase your daily fibre intake slowly and gradually, and be sure to have plenty of fluids as well. For most people, a high-fiber cereal is the place to start, but if breakfast isn’t your thing, you can have it any time during the day.

Processed foods such as a takeaway foods have little to no fibre, very important to limit these types of foods.

  • Exercise. 

Exercise speeds the transportation of wastes through the intestinal tract. It’s one of the reasons people who exercise regularly enjoy substantial protection against colon cancer. And like dietary fiber, exercise has many benefits beyond preventing constipation. It reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, erectile dysfunction, and many other problems.

For the sake of your heart and your health, as well as your bowel function, you should exercise nearly every day. A 30-minute walk is a great way to start.

  • Fluids. 

 An adult with constipation should have at least six to eight glasses of fluids a day.

  • A good routine

Always try to “heed the call” and head for the bathroom whenever you feel the urge to move your bowels.  Do not hold stool back 

Healthy men should have a regular, painless, and natural. Many people in industrialized societies suffer from chronic constipation and its complications because they have gotten away from the natural lifestyle. Getting back to basics with a high-fiber diet and regular exercise can restore natural bowel function to many “” and when more help is needed, your doctor can help you choose among a variety of therapeutic options.

It may take guts for a man to face up to the problem of constipation, but it’s the only way for him to win.

Yours In Health

Mbali Mapholi

XX

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