Constipation is a symptom of Crohn’s disease but it’s not as common as diarrhea. It often occurs during a flare up, and is characterized by having a bowel movement less than three times within a week. Crohns constipation can be very uncomfortable and cause bloating, straining and the feeling of a full bowel.
Constipation is quite common, and is something the average person experiences regardless if they suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or other digestive condition. Constipation results when the colon absorbs too much water from the waste material or the colon’s muscle contracts slowly or is sluggish. This causes stool to dramatically slow down on its journey through the colon. The outcome of constipation is often dry, hard, pebble-like stool that is difficult to pass.
What causes constipation in Crohn’s sufferers?
may differ depending on the person. For instance, while constipation may be a result from a poor diet in one person, it could be the result of taking medication in another. Therefore, in order to treat constipation, a Crohn’s sufferer should first learn about the most common causes of constipation and then assess their condition.
Poor Diet – A diet low in fiber and water consumption can lead to constipation. Eating too many dairy products such as milk and cheese, and foods high in starch such as potatoes, white pasta, white bread, and rice, can trigger constipation.
Medication – If you are taking medications to treat other Crohn’s symptoms, or another condition, one of the side effects of these drugs could be constipation. Furthermore, taking too many laxatives can actually have the opposite effect and result in constipation.
Stricture – Sometimes the cause of
is due to a slight obstruction in the small intestine called a stricture. A stricture is an abnormal narrowing that occurs in a natural passage in the body, in the case of Crohn’s the small or large intestine. Strictures result from ulcerations and scar tissue. The obstruction in the intestine slows down digestion and creates problems – constipation.
How can you relieve crohns constipation?
Up your insoluble fibre intake – There are two different types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Although both sources of fibre should be apart of your diet, if you are constipated, insoluble fibre is more beneficial to you because it helps to move food through your intestines. It is this fibre that encourages regular bowel movements. Excellent sources of insoluble fibre include dark green leafy vegetables, fruit skins, corn bran, and whole-wheat products.
When there is enough fibre in your diet, stools should be soft and passed without problem. If you have a problem naturally increasing your fibre intake, talk to your doctor about fibre supplements.
Drink plenty of water – Most people don’t drink enough water and this can lead to chronic dehydration and cause crohns constipation. You need to make sure you are well hydrated by drinking the recommended eight, 8oz. glasses of water daily, and avoid caffeinated drinks that lead to dehydration.
Exercise – Exercise improves your overall health, reduces the risk of constipation and can even prevent it. By improving your body’s circulation and increasing your energy, you are providing your body with the power it needs to digest food.
Drugs – if your crohns constipation is severe (lasts for more than 2 weeks) it’s time to consult your doctor about taking laxatives. Although these meds are available without prescription, it’s a good idea to seek the opinion of your doctor first. You should never abuse laxatives, as this will only cause further complications with your colon.
When you prevent and effectively treat crohns constipation, you will avoid ugly complications that can arise from chronic constipation such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures.
There are also many more resources and lots of information about controlling and treating Crohn’s Disease symptoms here Breakthrough Crohn’s Disease Guide