People need to have good digestion in order to enjoy their health and quality of life. When they have problems with their digestive tract, they might not be able to do the things that they want to do. Two common problems are constipation and diarrhea. Constipation is when they have difficulty moving their bowels and this causes discomfort and in many cases a lot of pain. When a person has diarrhea, they have the opposite problem. They tend to go to the bathroom too easily and this can cause them to lose a lot of nutrients and this is bad for their health and wellness. People who are having problems with these conditions will want to take steps to get some symptom relief and get back to enjoying their lives. Chronic constipation or diarrhea can affect people in a very negative way because it interferes with basically every area of their lives. They don’t feel good they are probably in some kind of pain and they can’t go very far from a washroom. They will definitely want to look into ways to improve their condition and likely they would prefer to have no side effects from treatment.
The Causes of Constipation & Diarrhea
There are various factors that can come into play when people are dealing with either constipation or diarrhea. Correcting issues that lead to bowel problems can help you avoid some of the worst episodes of gastrointestinal distress. Chronic situations are a bit different, there can be more problems that can have a negative impact; treatment may be required for the underlying conditions before you can control the episodes of diarrhea or constipation.
People may find that they lose nutrients or have trouble getting what they need out of their daily diet. Here are some of the factors that lead to constipation and diarrhea:
- Daily Diet
When people don’t eat properly it can cause constipation & diarrhea. Even if people are eating healthy, they can still encounter gastrointestinal problems. Suppose you eat a high fat dinner with lots of creams and sauces. Your body may have problems digesting this meal and cause your colon to secrete fluids and give you diarrhea. If you have an unknown food intolerance it can wreak havoc on your bowels causing constipation and or diarrhea. Lactose intolerance is a good example of this. Dry hard stools lack hydration and cannot be passed. If you are not drinking enough water that could actually be the cause of your difficulties. Simple fix, right? Even with proper hydration your system might still be constipated; you might need to add fibre to your diet.
Fiber is the part of plant foods that the body can’t break down. When you eat foods that have a lot of it, the extra bulk helps keep stools soft and speeds digestion.
- An Illness Can Be the Cause
In some cases, an illness can be the underlying cause of constipation or diarrhea. The stomach flu can cause lots of inflammation, this can affect the bowels causing swelling and then liquids will pass through the bowel causing diarrhea. When recovering from the flu lingering muscle inflammation can lead to constipation. This would be an acute case of diarrhea and constipation.
Chronic conditions are often much harder to control. Inflammatory bowel disease, (which is a group of diseases) can be due to an autoimmune disease or genetic issue. While exact IBD causes remain unclear people with Chrohn’s Disease and Ulcerative colitis suffer cramps, pain, fatigue and poor bowel function. Outside influences such as diet, stress and changes in gut bacteria can lead to Irritated Bowel Syndrome (IBS)which causes similar symptoms to IBD but for a different reason. People that have these illnesses typically seek a doctor’s help.
- Adverse Reactions to Medication
Many people have adverse reactions to the medication they are taking. Sometimes medicines can be switched to something with less side effects but this is not always possible. Whether you are dealing with constipation or diarrhea the prescriptions you are taking could be the culprit. Side effects are one of the main reasons people look for alternative options.
When you are in pain it is common to use NSAID’s like ibuprofen or Naproxen to get some relief, these products cause constipation. So do some antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, opioids and even iron supplements.
Oddly enough some of these same drugs can also cause diarrhea such as antidepressants. Antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (used to treat GERD’s which is really bad acid reflux) can also irritate the bowel and cause loose bowel movements. Chemotherapy drugs have tons of side effects and diarrhea does turn up on that list too.
- Too Much Stress
When someone is living a life that is filled with stress, it can show up in their digestive tract bringing some uncomfortable problems along with it. Did you even know there something called “stress constipation”? And yes, there is also “stress diarrhea”; they are related. Stress and anxiety cause stomach problems and digestive issues including nausea diarrhea and constipation. This is because of the connection between your gut and your brain known as the gut-brain axis. Basically, your brain and your gastrointestinal system are in constant communication. Stress can lead to other health conditions which you probably already knew, but what goes on in your gut can also trigger stress and upset.
Stress management is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, we won’t be getting into that here but check out this article on improving your mental health and quality of life
- Food Poisoning
Food can become contaminated at any point from the farm to dinner plate, during growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or during preparation itself. Cross contamination is often the cause of the problem, this is when harmful organisms get transferred from one surface to another. Undercooked poultry and pork are common culprits, so use that meat thermometer when cooking.
Bacteria, viral and parasitic agents are all responsible for food poisoning. The onset of symptoms can range anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Symptoms would include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme cramping, fever, muscle weakness and dehydration. Dehydration is one of the most serious complications of food poisoning.
TOP 5 TIPS TO AVOID FOOD POISONING!
- Wash hands and surfaces with hot soapy water
- Keep raw foods away from prepared foods
- Cook foods to a safe temperature
- Refrigerate and defrost foods safely
- When in doubt throw it out
Treatment for Constipation & Diarrhea
Many products may be able to give you some relief from symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, but in some cases, they may make your symptoms worse with all the side effects they cause. Natural alternatives can be gentle and very helpful when you are having an adverse reaction to a treatment, reaction to food, or experiencing a stress triggered episode of bowel upset. Even simple lifestyle changes can provide some relief. Options are outlined below, so you can make an informed decision.
Over-the-counter medications and prescriptions can help; people should read the labels and follow the instructions to help minimize any side effects. Side effects can include all types of problems that will aggravate the symptoms of both constipation and diarrhea: bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, constipation and even thirst can all be side effects.
Remember that you need to be very careful not to overuse these types of medication or you may be left with a chronic issue that is difficult to resolve
- Lifestyle changes
Changing your lifestyle is one way to take care of problems with constipation and diarrhea. Make sure that you are eating right and getting the proper rest every day. Exercise will help keep your body strong, improve your immunity and gut health and decrease your stress levels. This is important because keeping the stress levels down plays a huge role in determining good digestion and bowel health.
- Dietary changes
Dietary changes can really make a difference when people are dealing with constipation and diarrhea. Allergies and food sensitivities must be considered and these items are often removed from a person’s diet in order to improve digestion and bowel movements.
- Homeopathic remedies
Natural ingredients to help alleviate the symptoms of constipation and diarrhea are highly recommended, especially homeopathic remedies as they have no side effects and won’t interfere with any other medications you might be taking.
Arsenicum Album is the main homeopathic remedy for diarrhea especially if it caused by spoiled food or traveller’s diarrhea. Chamomilla and Calcarea carbonica are also used to treat diarrhea as is cinchona officianalis.
Constipation requires a different set of remedies to get relief. Nux Vomica, Bryonia Alba, Lycopodium, Silicea and natrum mur all can be used for constipation. Each one deals with a very specific set of symptoms ranging from gas and bloating, to hard stool, to constipation that causes hemorrhoids. Be sure to read the product description before you purchase a remedy.
To make life easier many companies have created combination remedies that treat a wide variety of symptoms for both diarrhea and constipation.
- Herbal remedies
Many people find that herbal remedies work wonders for them with both constipation and diarrhea. Be sure to do your research before you buy because herbal remedies may have side effects and can sometimes interfere with other medications. Here is a handy chart to help you out…
- Chiropractic Treatment For Digestive Issues
Getting chiropractic treatment for digestive issues has been proven to work well. People will want to look into a professional person that is practiced in this and knows just where to apply the pressure so that the digestive tract works in a much better way. Digestive problems are not just about what you put in your body you need to look at the root cause of the problem.
If the vertebrae of the spine are not aligned it can cause a misfire in the messages that are sent to the nerves of the digestive system which can result in digestive distress like gas, back pain, cramping, diarrhea and constipation. Adjustments can give much needed relief and help correct the problem, but to reach an optimal state of health you will need to have a nutritional plan with adequate fluids and fiber.
Be aware that adjustments for digestive issues can have an immediate effect. So, if you are suffering from constipation you might need to move quickly to a bathroom right after your adjustment.
Many people have discovered that natural remedies are often the best for both constipation and diarrhea. They tend to be a gentler alternative, while still being very effective. Also, there are fewer drug interactions and side effects that you need to be aware of.
https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/sigtm3094 (med’s that cause diarrhea)