There are few things more frustrating than being unable to have a normal bowel movement. Constipation can be very uncomfortable, causing hard stools that are difficult and painful to pass.
Constipation and Your Body
Usually, it’s either blamed on a low fiber diet, not drinking enough water, or a lack of exercise. However, it can also be a symptom of a certain condition – or a side effect of a certain medication. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that there can be multiple reasons why you’re unable to eliminate besides the usual explanations. These surprising causes of constipation include:
- Hypothyroidism – Also known as an underactive thyroid gland, this condition slows your body’s metabolic processes. And that may (or may not) include your digestive system. If you suffer from chronic constipation, you may want to have your doctor to check your thyroid level.
- Calcium and Iron Intake – Vitamins rarely cause constipation. However, in some patients, too much calcium or iron can have that effect. If you need these nutrients, you can counteract the resulting constipation with a stool softener.
- Fat and Dairy Foods – Too much low-fiber/high-fat foods such as meat and eggs, along with milk, butter, and eggs can slow normal digestion. You don’t have to give these foods up to avoid becoming constipated. Just reduce your intake and increase your intake of high-fiber foods such as salads, fruits, and vegetables. Also, you may want to avoid highly processed and fast foods.
- Narcotic Painkillers – One of the negative side effects of these drugs is that they tend to hamper the normal function of the digestive system. That’s why doctors will often also prescribe a gentle laxative.
- Antidepressants – Constipation has been associated with both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) like Prozac and tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil. However, depression also slows down the body’s normal processes, potentially affecting normal bowel function.
- Antacids – Although fine for relieving heartburn, antacids containing calcium or aluminum have been known to cause constipation. You may be able to kill two birds with one stone – fight heartburn and constipation – by eating less fatty food and more fiber.
- Blood Pressure and Allergy Medications – Constipation is a side effect of calcium channel blockers and diuretics. The latter lowers blood pressure by increasing urine output. That flushes water – needed to keep stools soft – from your body. Antihistamines can also result in constipation.
- Laxative Overuse – Yes, the stuff designed to make you go – like Ex Lax, Dulcolax, etc. – can have the opposite effect if not taken as directed. If you take a stimulant laxative consistently over a long period of time, your body will become dependent and won’t function properly without it. So, read the product label or ask your doctor how long you should be using any laxative medication.
Gastroenterologists in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio
At North Shore Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Centers, our 13 board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologists are dedicated to making a positive impact on each of our patients by providing the highest quality gastrointestinal care. We use the latest technology and diagnostic testing to thoroughly evaluate your symptoms and correctly identify your condition.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a digestive disorder like constipation, call us today at (440) 808-1212 for an appointment with one of the gastroenterologists at North Shore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Center or request an appointment online.