Nov 19th 2011

Do you know about the organization NICE? NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. It is an independent organization that operates under the auspices of the National Health Services (NHS), which is the health arm of the UK government. In 2010 they issued a publication that details the problems of idiopathic constipation in children. The publication is a long read, so you may head to the Nursing Times website for a summary. Much of the information in this publication is covered on our site but it's always nice to have a unified and comprehensive report for perusal.

A Widespread Condition

It has been reported that 2-30% of the population report suffering from constipation. Such a wide-range for the incidence rate make for unclear statistics, but even at the low end of 2% one would say constipation is a concern to many people.

Defining Constipation

To an individual, seeking constipation treatments and remedies may be very well-defined and clear. However, to the medical establishment, even defining and diagnosing constipation is a difficult task. This is because there is considerable variation in frequency of bowel movements from individual to individual. For some people, going once a day is perfectly normal, whereas for others going once every three days is considered a lifetime norm.

There have been several attemps to clarify the matter. For example, the definition of chronic constipation according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), a governmental research agency, is a condition in which a bowel movement occurs only once every three days. Another, more thorough set of diagnostic criteria, was formulated by the Rome Foundation, an organization specializing in studying and unifying our understanding of gastrointestinal disorders. The Rome criteria list out a constellation of symptoms, and patients must be able to claim several before the criteria guidelines would consider them constipated.

Seeking The Causes Of Constipation

In light of the difficulty of diagnosis, it is not surprising that pinning down the causes is equally difficult, and perhaps an even more serious matter. The chronic condition itself may be an indicator of another illness, some benign and others more serious. For example, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one cause of constipation. The prospects for patients with IBS is mixed, even when it is not life-threatening, it can have a severe negative impact on quality of life for sufferers. Another more benign example is dietary: a diet low in fiber combined with poor bowel habits can cause constipation.

Constipation Remedies

Whether a primary cause can be identified or not, many people wish to alleviate the condition or symptoms associated with the condition. For low frequency, occasional incidences, it might be worth it to seek a natural or over-the-counter (OTC) constipation medication. The most common of constipation treatments are the OTC laxatives. There is probably no best laxative as every individual is different. Prescription medications are next on the list. It is not always straightforward to pick a constipation cure that will work immediately. It may take some experimenting to find the right kind of laxatives.

Medication For Constipation Remedies

There are both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription-based medications available. In general the OTC drugs are generic laxatives which have been around for many years known under the names of osmotic constipation remedies, stimulant constipation remedies and prokinetic constipation remedies. But in recent years, advances in molecular medicine have produced a few fairly new drugs aimed at root causes of constipation. These include the widely-known Amitiza, and the newer Resolor which is also known by its chemical name prucalopride.

Maintenance And Management

Patients must also think of modifying their future lifestyle to reduce chronic constipation. For example, they should carefully consider whether their intake of insolube fiber is sufficient. Referencing an authoritative source is important for accurate accounting of all intake. Regular use of laxatives may also be called for, as long as caveats regarding chronic usage can be resolved. What works very well for one person may only work so-so for another. Our particular physiologies may play a role in determining the efficacy of any constipation cure.

Avoiding Scams

Because gastointestinal health is of concern to such a broad swath of the population, many claims have arisen regarding devices or medicinal supplements of curing constipation. Many will have heard of enemas with questionable substances, herbal remedies and mechanical devices purporting to detoxify the colon. The reader is invited to review some of these claims objectively. In particular, the American Cancer Society has produced a page warning against such colon cleanse therapies.

In summary, the origins of chronic constipation are varied, ranging from lifestyle choices to genetic predispositions. Treatment of the underlying cause is vital, but so are methods of treating the symptoms of the condition. These include constipation medication, laxatives, medical diagnostics and high fiber therapy. Look up reputable sources of information, such as the National Institute of Health's own page on constipation remedies.