IBS Constipation – Why do some people get this?

As you are probably aware people with irritable bowel syndrome (ibs) suffer with constipation, diarrhoea or a combination of both. Lets take a look at constipation (see this post for details of IBS diarrhea).
If you suffer with constipation then your bowel is not working efficiently and is sluggish. Often this can be due to not having enough fibre in your diet and therefore your colon is not being stimulated enough. Alternatively you may have a lazy bowel that doesn’t contract strongly or regularly enough to pass the food along and you end up with hard stools.

IBS Constipation More Common in Women

Scientific studies have shown that IBS constipation tends to be more common in women than men that have IBS. Interestingly further studies show that women in general have a more sluggish bowel than men anyway which might help to explain the results found in female IBS patients. Apparently the bowel has a role to play in the metabolism of oestrogen which presumably also impacts on the functioning of the gut and bowel movements.

What Causes Constipation

  • Not enough fibre in your diet – this is interesting because at first it was assumed adding more fibre to your diet would improve irritable bowel symptoms but this is not the case. If you suffer with constipation then increasing your fibre could result in even bulkier stools but may not necessarily speed up the time of passing along the gut and therefore make your condition worse!
  • Tea drinks – generally drinking tea instead of water can slow down the rate at which food passes through the gut.
  • Not drinking enough water  – it is especially important to drink plenty of water if you take any type of fiber supplements as these absorb liquids.
  • Periods and hormones – as mentioned above oestrogen is metabolised by the bowel as may slow up digestion.
Morley J.E. et al. Effect of exorphins on gastrointestinal function, hormonal release, and appetite. Gastroenterology. 1983;84:1517-1523
  • Stress – it is well known that exam stress can cause unpleasant diarrhea but stress can also aggravate constipation. Learn to relax.
  • Drugs – some strong pain relief medication can cause constipation (such as codeine).
  • Lack of exercise – any form of exercise will encourage your body to work more efficiently as blood is pumped around your body to all your organs. Exercise will help to encourage proper gut muscle contractions and relieve constipation.
  • Certain foods – if you notice a particular food is worsening your symptoms of IBS then remove it from your diet. What is good for one person may cause problems for you.

IBS Constipation Remedies & Information

It is best to try various remedies and see which one or combination works best for you.

  • Magnesium has natural laxative properties.
  • Linseed is good for women whose symptoms get worse during their period as the linseed has an oestrogen regulating effect.
  • If you are really struggling to have a bowel movement and have chronic constipation then you may need to take proper laxative treatments from your doctor as repeated straining can cause hemorrhoids and rectal bleeding. There have been positive reports that amitiza treatment is effective. (Note that taking laxatives regularly is NOT a solution and can totally mess up your digestive system).
  • Bran in the form of wheat or grain may benefit you or for people with IBS it could make things worse. Since it is not easy to digest it forms a bulk in your intestines which stimulates activity and thus stool production. However for some it can worsen your symptoms and cause awful bloating. If this happens then try oats (soluble fiber) as an alternative.
  • Non bran fibre include eating seeds, nuts and plant fiber (vegetables & fruits).
  • Exercise and relaxation are a must.
  • Drinking probiotics is helpful in maintaining the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Also when having meals learn to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. Eating small amounts frequently can also help. Following the above with certainly help to ease your abdominal pain and discomfort associated with constipation and hopefully prevent further occurrences and get you into a more healthy normal bowel habit.
Posted in: IBS Symptoms

Post a Comment