Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for November, 2006

Use of Bowel stimulants

Physics, Laxatives, and Enema. The sale of bowel stimulants and constipation cures is soaring because constipation is invited in later life by our trend toward sedentary rather than active leisure hours. Television is an outstanding contributor to this annoying situation.

Strong physics such as castor oil, irritate the intestinal tract and stimulate great waves of propelling activity, forcing the intestinal stream to gush through the colon and anus. Other physics, such as Epsom Salts and the well-advertised bulk laxatives, have a great blotter-like action which draw large quantities of water into the intestinal tract to make the bowel movements large and watery. The enema is probably the simplest way of putting water into the bowel to clear the colon. Though probably much overdone, an enema is essentially harmless, is quite simple to perform, and is often used in hospitals.

There are times when physics, laxatives and enemas are of value and even necessary, but most of the time their effect can be obtained by drinking more water, including a little more fiber in the diet, and getting regular exercise. Remedies for constipation however, will probably champion our drug store counters for many years, as our population ages and our sedentary lives create more drug store dependents among us.

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Difficulties in bowel movements

Constipation. A most frequent complaint of people in their later years is constipation, as a prolonged time between bowel movements, or as great difficulty in bowel evacuation when it does occur. Wide confusion exists concerning what is normal for bowel activity. In youth, we are moving about quickly, and bowels are of little concern, but in later life, fast moving activity is just a memory and bowels become a great concern.

It is also true that bowel matter is unequaled in its universal abhorrence, and to seek disposal as quickly and completely as possible, is only natural for every person. This usually means a bowel movement is desirable every day and anything less than a daily movement in a person with time enough to notice, immediately establishes the complaint of constipation. An estimate of bowel activity for most people is one movement a day, but while desirable, it does not necessarily indicate good health.

Bowel activity, more than anything else, reflects activity of the entire body. Compare the action in the colon of a person who is bed-ridden, with the colon of a physically active, hardworking person. Without any doubt, the colon subjected to a shaking-up by body activity will be far more active and regular.

One function of the colon is to absorb water out of the fecal waste. If the bowel moves through the colon rapidly as in very active people, water absorption cannot be completed and a soft or liquid bowel movement results. If the bowel movement however, moves very slowly through the colon, as it does in inactive people, all moisture becomes absorbed and a hard, granular or marble-like stool is produced.

In ordinary constipation attention is necessary only for the two factors of diet and regular activity, to effect satisfactory bowel action. The diet to avoid constipation calls for sufficient fiber-type foods, which absorb water to form a moist stool, and a healthful stimulant for the bowel can also be obtained from the juices of prunes, grapes and other fruits. Regular activity in exercising the entire body, also stimulates the colon and aids in promoting daily bowel action.

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