Those who suffer from constipation may be tempted to end the problem with an express visit to the pharmacy. But there are other alternatives to recover regularity … and have no pill form.
If you go to the bathroom less than three times a week until your doctor will prove you right, you suffer constipation. If this shortage of visits is accompanied by a cluster of negative sensations, such as abdominal swelling or pain, surely you have been tempted to end your ordeal by going to the nearest pharmacy to ask for a laxative instead of consulting the doctor. But resorting to chemistry may not be the solution you need.
Suffering from constipation is not unusual it is one of the most frequent digestive disorders that exist. It is estimated that approximately 14% of the Spanish population goes to the bathroom less than three times a week. If you are one of those who do not leave home without putting a laxative in your hand kit … you know what is the fastest option to solve the problem. But faster does not necessarily mean more effective.
Should we take laxatives yes or yes?
In Spain, more than 23 million units of various laxative preparations are dispensed per year, according to data from a study conducted at the University Hospital La Fe in Valencia. But self-medication to solve constipation can be harmful since each type of laxative has a specific indication and contraindications. “Not all patients can take all types of laxatives, the doctor must assess which is the most appropriate at all times, at what dose and for how long it should be administered,” warns Dr. Virginia Matallana Royo, a specialist in the digestive tract and digestive motor and functional disorders.
Although there is currently an arsenal of laxatives that can be used, none is useful in all people or all situations. Actually, despite being such a common problem, solving constipation involves following a personalized treatment that investigates the mechanism that is failing in that specific person rather than taking a pill. That is why specialists do not tire of repeating that the solution must be staggered … and in almost no case in the first step are these drugs.
The recommendation is to adopt dietary measures, increase exercise, stop smoking and adopt a schedule to go to the regular bathroom before starting the medication. If after six weeks with these new habits, no results are achieved, then laxatives can be prescribed. But, in principle, by changing the lifestyle and properly complying with a series of hygienic-dietary advice, a good proportion of cases of occasional constipation is resolved without the need to touch a single drug. These lifestyle changes must always be followed, whether or not laxatives are prescribed.
Extra help to go to the bathroom
If following the advice of your doctor you do not achieve results, consult him the possibility of resorting to naturotherapy. Soluble fiber (psyllium) supplements have proven effective when taken daily, achieving long-term regular intestinal transit. What should be avoided is the use of suppositories or enemas, “because even though it is effective in specific cases, its use must be punctual and only rescue if other measures have not worked,” says Dr. Jose Luis Calleja Panero, a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology at La Luz Hospital.
Other better known natural remedies, such as sacred shell capsules, fuca or aloe vera “should be used with caution since many of them act the same as stimulant laxatives. Its continued use is not advisable, but in a timely or occasional manner they may be appropriate, ”warns Dr. Virginia Matallana Royo.
For their part, massages, inappropriate hands (physiotherapists trained in visceral osteopathy ) can be useful … as long as we combine them with other measures. “There is no scientific evidence to support it as an exclusive treatment and should always be associated with the aforementioned treatments and advice (hygienic-dietary measures, fiber …)”, warns dr. Luis Abreu Garcia, Head of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Department of La Luz Hospital.
What has shown that it gives good results is to re-educate the sphincter. Biofeedback is a learning technique that is indicated in those cases in which constipation is caused by inadequate sphincter relaxation. It is a simple technique, without contraindications, which in the hands of trained health personnel can be very effective and durable.