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5 health risks of chronic constipation

Last updated on: June 18, 2014 16:49 IST

5 health risks of chronic constipation

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Shameem Akthar

It can be the cause of vicious health problems, including colon cancer.

Constipation is often treated as a trivial disturbance of one’s routine. It is dismissed as a life-style irritant that will pass, or must be endured or fixed by some quick remedy.

The fact is that a chronic case of constipation can be a red alert to other dangerous things happening within the body. It can be the cause of vicious health problems, including colon cancer.

Certainly constipation causes are life-style issues: food with little fibre; too little or too much hydration (the latter affecting the osmotic conditioning of the colon); late dinners and waking up late.

Other causes are irregular bowel habits, irregular sleep patterns, travel (many women are constipated when travelling); cramped living conditions and limited toilets as in hostels or paying guest accommodation; sudden shift in eating patterns (even a sudden increase in fibre can cause constipation).

Alternative therapists put another spin on constipation, suggesting it can come from suppressing emotions or discomforts from the past, or being unable to let go of past issues/problems.

Clearly, constipation is not as simple as it appears, says Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre.

Here she discuses five fallouts of constipation.

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Photographs: ColonCancerSymptoms / Creative Commons

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Toxicity

There are several types of toxicity that result from chronic constipation.

Sometimes the faecal matter may push back into the digestive tract if the constipation is severe. This may cause vomiting and diarrhoea as the body tries to find an outlet for the accumulating poison.

The body has a system of re-absorbing water back from the large intestine and the colon. If the fermentation has reached dangerous levels, then the re-absorption becomes toxic, creating conditions that would erupt elsewhere – skin problems and eruptions, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, irritability, unexplained headaches, to name a few.

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Colon cancer

The above condition also leads to the toxic build-up behind colon cancer. Chronic constipation causes polyps and an inflammatory response that becomes difficult for the body to regulate from inside.

This is one of the less-known but dangerous side-effect of regular constipation: rectal fissures, inflammation of the intestines, especially the large intestine, and colon cancer.

Because the symptoms may replicate other problems of the digestive tract, it will often obfuscate diagnosis. Keeping this link in mind is a good way to sort out long-term negative fall-out.

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Thyroid problems

Another link that often remains hidden is that between chronic constipation and thyroid problems.

Those with hypothyroidism usually are silent victims of constipation. This is because the overall sluggishness contributed by their condition slows down the colon movements and reduces its efficiency.

There are other factors that aggravate hypothyroidism and constipation – depression, bad eating habits and food habits, a sedentary life-style, and certain medications the patient may be taking to control other problems.

Constipation becomes part of this toxic cluster of problems that can drag a person’s vitality down.

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Eyesight

Straining to pass stools can damage the delicate blood vessels in the eyes. The old-style Indian toilet offers the right pressure to facilitate peristalsis (movement of the gut that is involved with passing food and waste along the tract).

When there is difficulty in passing stools the damage can often occur at a far away spot, the eyes.

Often this also seems to affect other existing problems such as high blood sugar which in turn causes constipation, creating a vicious cycle.

Blurred vision is also possible through such straining. Another symptom-cause (it can be both or either) is that of eye dryness. Overall dryness inside the body is what causes constipation.

Since constipation in its turn affects the water re-absorption capacity of the body, there is again dryness, which most other extremities also feel – dry brittle hair, dry eyes, dry skin etc.

Dry eyes can cause infections because the fluid in the eyes is anti-bacterial and keeps cleansing the eyes which, when dry, become exposed to bacteria and infections.

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Beauty issues

As you see from the above, it is not just the inside but also the outside of your body that is severely affected by constipation.

Dry skin is a major aesthetic issue because it can facilitate wrinkling and affect healing from natural abrasions.

Dry flaky skin can cause bacterial overgrowth, leading to acne, boils and other inflammatory conditions that may be directly linked to your digestive tract health.  

Dry tissue from inside will prevent the transport of healing nutrients to problem areas, causing eye bags or sagging skin.

Other aesthetic problems include weight yo-yos, because constipation will affect appetite. It will lead to excessive sweating, BO, bad breath.

Dry hair and accompanying problems of a lacklustre mane include dandruff, hair loss or hair coarseness, to name a few.

Also read: Constipation: Tips to stay 'regular' 


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