Feeling constipated? Everyone feels it sooner or later. But if you start a conversation with “Do you know December is Constipation Awareness Month?” you won’t make many friends at that holiday party.
Chronic constipation can lead to serious health conditions or even lead to death. Elvis Presley’s doctor recently revealed a possible link to constipation as The King’s cause of death in the report by Hollie McKay, on May 5, 2010 in Fox News, when he stated “Usually you pass it all in two or three days, but at the autopsy we found stool in his colon which had been there for four or five months because of the poor motility of the bowel.”
One of my family members nearly died as a result of being chronically constipated. A portion of their colon actually tore as their body tried to release waste, and quick action to emergency surgery and related medical services was life-saving. Wikipedia’s free encyclopedia definition of a colostomy is a reversible surgery attaching a healthy section of large intestine to an appliance on the outside of the body through an incision. Even a temporary colostomy was necessary to ensure total healing. For some survivors of such trauma, a colostomy becomes a permanent addition to daily life.
Constipation is a huge pain in the wallet for Americans, as they spend hundreds of millions of dollars for laxatives annually, according to Arnold Wald, MD, of the American College of Gastroenterology. Awareness about the possible causes and what to do about it can help prevent everything from plain old tummy aches to life-threatening situations, as well as saving some of that money spent on laxatives.
When the urge to go is not addressed in a short time, it can cause too much water to be absorbed from the waste and it gets hard and dry, making it difficult to pass through. Other issues can make add to the likelihood of constipation such as: pregnancy, medications such as pain prescriptions, overuse of laxatives, and disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, lupus, hypothyroidism, not drinking enough water, and more.
Many people can avoid constipation in a few easy steps. Make sure eight glasses about sixteen ounces in size are consumed each day for adults. Daily exercise is important is all health, and even a walk around the block is better than nothing. The more people just sit around the more likely they are to be constipated. Making sure the foods eaten are high in fiber is important too, like mixed vegetables, apples with the skin, cooked kidney beans, garbanzos and lentils, oats, bran, and brown rice. Maybe most importantly in the busy lifestyle many Americans lead, get to the bathroom when feeling the urge.
Talking with a doctor or pharmacist before purchasing a laxative or stool softener is recommended, because there are different levels of constipation and causes. Stool softeners tend to not have the side effects of laxatives, because they have different and milder ingredients, but sometimes a laxative is the best choice for the condition. Only a discussion with the doctor or pharmacist can help you learn which you need, or if you should go to urgent care.
December may be the most fitting for Constipation Awareness Month. It is a hectic time of year with holiday events and expectations surrounding folks with temptations of foods and drinks that can make it hard to keep the digestive system working smoothly.
Constipation and . . ., by Arnold Wald, MD, MACG, 2010, American College of Gastroentrology
Elvis Presley’s Doctor Claims . . ., by Hollie McKay, Fox News, May 5, 2010
Definition of Colostomy, Wikipekia Free Encyclopedia
Did Elvis Die of Constipation? WebMD Blog Nov. 30, 2010
Constipation; Palo Alto Medical Foundation 2010
Family Medical History of Author, Lynn Pritchett