Constipation & Diarrhea
Constipation and diarrhea are the first two conditions that come to mind when most people think about digestive issues. Both conditions are frequent, daily complaints that cause discomfort and annoyance for a lot of people. Americans spend approximately $300 million on anti-diarrhea medications and about $1.6 billion on laxatives every year. In addition to outlining some of the chiropractic interventions we provide, such as natural care for gut health, Life Source Chiropractic would like to provide some basic facts on these conditions.
What Are Constipation and Diarrhea?
Both diarrhea and constipation affect digestion. People affected by constipation may have hardened stools that are challenging to pass. A patient may also experience the sensation that there is still stool inside their intestine that needs to be passed, but they are not able to do so. Sometimes, people don’t drink enough water, are under more stress than usual, or spend too much time sitting, which can occasionally cause problems with the bowels. However, this is not considered constipation unless the affected individual has less than three bowel movements per week.
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Diarrhea symptoms are the opposite of constipation. These bowel movements are loose due to their high water content, and they occur three or more times throughout the day. Diarrhea can also be categorized based on its duration. Diarrhea that lasts for only a day or two and improves without treatment is known as acute diarrhea. Diarrhea that lasts for more than two weeks but less than four weeks is known as persistent diarrhea, and anything longer than four weeks is considered chronic diarrhea.
Common Causes of Constipation and Diarrhea
Constipation and diarrhea can be caused by a number of factors, but there are some that we see very frequently at Life Source Chiropractic. Since the bowels are the most involved organs when it comes to processing the foods we eat, they are very sensitive to changes in diet. There are also other ingested substances, such as certain medications, that can cause widespread bowel problems. Some diseases and lifestyle choices can also have an influence on digestion efficiency.
Causes of Constipation
Constipation can have a variety of causes, which frequently occur together. Some examples include medical issues such as intestinal surgery, nerve dysfunction that causes sluggish movement of waste through the colon, pelvic floor nerve dysfunction causing the inability to properly relax and coordinate the pelvic floor muscles to be able to have a bowel movement, or chronic disease, for instance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Constipation becomes more common with pregnancy, age, and also while traveling. People with celiac disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease are also likely to have problems with constipation.
Food choices, including not eating enough fiber, are another significant cause of constipation due to the fact that the intestines are essential for absorbing nutrients. Not getting enough exercise and not drinking enough fluids can also cause constipation as can ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.
Due to the fact that some Life Source Chiropractic patients rely on prescription medications, our approach to chiropractic for constipation includes taking a close look at what medications they have been prescribed. Some medications can worsen or even cause constipation, including the following:
- Narcotic pain medications
- Iron supplements
- Certain antidepressants
Of course, these are only a few of the most common medications associated with constipation. There are many more, some of which our patients cannot stop taking. In this case we work to improve their gut health so constipation becomes less of a problem.
Causes of Diarrhea
A number of diseases and medical conditions can cause chronic diarrhea, and the same is true for acute and persistent diarrhea. Some of these include certain medications, infections, and traveler’s diarrhea.
Even though chronic diarrhea lasts for four weeks or more, the symptoms can come and go. Food allergies to grains, cow’s milk, or seafood are common causes of chronic diarrhea. Other dietary intolerances, such as lactose or fructose intolerance, can also cause diarrhea.
Diarrhea can likewise be caused by infectious viruses. Some of the most common include gastroenteritis, norovirus, and rotavirus. Food and water can become contaminated by bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), salmonella, shigella, and Campylobacter. Parasites can also infect the body through food and water. Some of these include giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium enteritis, and Entamoeba histolytica (E. histolytica).
Chiropractic for diarrhea can help strengthen the immune system so it can fend off these types of viruses. Chiropractic care and natural interventions are also effective against bacteria and parasites.
Traveler’s diarrhea is relatively common for those taking a trip to a developing country and can be caused by ingesting water or food that is contaminated by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Fortunately, this condition only lasts a few days, but it can put a damper on your vacation. Our suggestion to patients is to drink only bottled water and save some of it to wash off any fresh produce before consuming it. Although this may not completely take the risk away, it will reduce the likelihood of an exposure to the microbes that frequently cause traveler’s diarrhea.
Just like constipation, some medications can worsen or even cause diarrhea. As a matter of fact, the leading side effect of antibiotics is diarrhea. Anti-cancer medications can also cause this condition. Life Source Chiropractic works hard to strengthen the intestinal tract when it is not possible to reduce the dosage or discontinue use of medications so that diarrhea is not as likely to occur.
Symptoms of Constipation and Diarrhea
Although everyone is different, there are some common symptoms many people experience who either have constipation or diarrhea. Constipation is classified as such when a person has three or less bowel movements in a week. This matters because some individuals incorrectly think they are constipated when they haven’t had a bowel movement in a day or two. If this occurs, our advice is to drink more water, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and start incorporating more exercise into your daily routine.
Constipation not only includes infrequent bowel movements, it also includes hard-to-pass or painful bowel movements. The stool is often hard, dry, or lumpy. They may also feel like they need to pass additional stool after a bowel movement is complete even though there is none ready to be passed.
The main symptom of diarrhea is passing at least three loose, watery stools in a 24-hour period. Diarrhea results from intestinal upheaval, so it can cause abdominal cramping, an intense urge to go to the bathroom, and loss of control of the bowels.
Additional symptoms can be present if the diarrhea is caused by an infection. Some of these include vomiting, chills, fever, and dizziness. In the case of a diarrheal infection, blood may be present in the stool.
How Chiropractic Can Help Constipation or Diarrhea?
The main focus of chiropractic care for constipation and diarrhea is to identify and address the underlying cause of the symptoms. Life Source Chiropractic works to improve the functioning of the nerve system no matter which condition the patient has. Nerves help to propel stool through the digestive tract; therefore, they are vital to intestinal health.
We optimize the neurological system by using chiropractic adjustments. This helps to realign the spine so that the spinal cord and other nerves are able to freely carry messages throughout the body in order to maintain good health.
Lifestyle recommendations are another way we provide natural care for gut health. We not only want our patients to be free of painful digestive symptoms, we want them to be in the best possible health. We review every patient’s eating habits and recommend nutritional guidelines to provide their bodies with the nutrients needed to rebuild muscle, restore worn tissue, and reclaim excellent health.
Get Natural Constipation and Diarrhea Relief
You don’t have to live with the inconvenience and pain that comes with periodic bouts of constipation and diarrhea. If over-the-counter laxatives or anti-diarrheal medications have become part of your daily routine, we want you to be aware that these are only masking your symptoms and costing you money. Life Source Chiropractic can help you optimize your bowel health as well as your overall well-being. If you need answers to your questions or would like to schedule a chiropractic for gut health consultation, give us a call today.