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Water and Constipation
Constipation is a gastro-intestinal symptom that occurs when bowel movements are less frequent due to a harder stool which is more difficult to pass. Most people at some point in their lives will experience constipation. In most cases, constipation is only temporary and not serious. Understanding its causes, prevention, and treatment will help most people find relief. There are two types of constipation, with one being more severe than the other. Slow transit constipation is the most common form. Lack of fiber and inadequate water in the diet are common causes of slow transit constipation. One of the major symptoms of this type is dehydration. The other method, outlet delay, has to do more with loss of function in the pelvic area, and occurs more often in senior citizens.
How do we get constipated?
Well, food flows through the small intestine as a liquid mixture of digestive juices and the food you eat. By the time it reaches the large intestine, all the nutrients have been absorbed. The large intestine has one main function: to absorb water from the waste liquid, and turn it into a waste solid, known as the stool. The hard and dry stools of constipation occur when the colon absorbs too much water, or if the colon's muscle contractions are too slow or sluggish, which results in the stool moving through the colon at too slow a pace. These hard, dry stools are difficult to pass, as they cause strain. The reason they are difficult to pass is that the hard, dry stool actually sticks to the dry wall of the colon and requires that the colon develop high-pressure waves to be moved. Since the body needs help to remove the stool, strain is then placed on the abdominal muscles to contribute the necessary force to push out the stool. This straining can have negative effects to the body, such as the development of hernias, varicose veins, hiatus hernia (upward pressure forcing the stomach into the chest), diverticulitis and diverticulosis (weakening and infection of the colon wall), hemorrhoids, anal fissures and fistulae. Colorectal cancers may also be more common in patients with lifelong habit constipation.
Doesn't sound pretty does it?
There are ways to prevent this. Liquids, like water and juice, add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. Because the colon needs water to do its job, dehydration can be a major cause of constipation.