Since we live in a country that prizes pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps or staying calm, cool, and collected through even the most nerve-wracking situations, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many people still mistakenly think that anxiety and depression are “all in the head” or the result of some moral failing. Here at Vital Wellness Center, we believe that medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or other medical conditions affect our patients, including our patients’ mental health. Our experienced and caring chiropractor, Dr. David Foss, hopes to shed some light on this complex mind and body condition and share some basic information about the benefits of chiropractic for anxiety and depression.
What Are Constipation and Diarrhea?
Constipation and diarrhea are both conditions that affect digestion. A patient who is constipated may have hardened stools that are difficult to pass. Sometimes a patient may feel as if there is still stool inside of their intestine that needs to pass, but they are unable to do so. Not drinking enough water, spending too much time sitting, and feeling too much stress at work can cause occasional difficulty with the bowels. This, however, isn’t constipation unless it causes an individual to have fewer than three bowel movements per week.
Diarrhea has the opposite symptoms of constipation. Bowel movements occur three or more times per day, and they have a high water content, so they are loose. Diarrhea may be classified according to how long it lasts. Acute diarrhea lasts only a day or two and often improves without treatment. Persistent diarrhea lasts between two and four weeks, while chronic diarrhea continues for more than four weeks.
Common Causes of Constipation and Diarrhea
While many factors can cause constipation and diarrhea, there are some causes that we see more frequently in our office. In general, the bowels are very sensitive to changes in the diet since they are one of the organs most involved in processing the foods we eat. Other ingested substances such as medications are also widespread causes of bowel issues. Lifestyle factors and some diseases also influence how efficiently digestion occurs.
Causes of Constipation
Constipation has a variety of causes. Frequently, these causes occur together. They can include medical conditions such as sluggish movement of waste through the colon due to nerve dysfunction, slowed intestinal emptying due to a pelvic floor nerve dysfunction, intestinal surgery, or a chronic disease such as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
Constipation is more common with increasing age, pregnancy, or while traveling. Individuals with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and celiac disease are also more likely to develop this issue.
Since the intestines are critical for absorbing nutrients, lifestyle factors are a significant cause of constipation. Eating a fiber-poor diet, not getting enough exercise, and dehydration are three important causes of constipation. Ignoring the urge to move the bowels can also lead to constipation.
We live in a pharmaceutical-rich society, so our chiropractic for constipation includes a close look at our patients’ medications. Some medications can cause or worsen constipation. These include:
- Iron supplements
- Some antidepressants
- Narcotic pain medications
This is only a partial list of the most common medications linked to constipation. Our patients are on many more, and sometimes, they are unable to stop taking them, so we must work to improve their gut health, so constipation becomes less of an issue.
Causes of Diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea is linked with specific diseases and other medical conditions. Acute and persistent diarrhea can have multiple causes, including infections, Travelers’ diarrhea, and medications.
Although chronic diarrhea lasts for a month or more, its symptoms can come and go. Allergies to foods such as cow’s milk, cereal grains, and seafood are common causes of chronic diarrhea. Dietary intolerances such as lactose and fructose intolerances can also cause this condition. Fructose is a naturally-occurring sugar found in fruit and honey that is added as high-fructose corn syrup to soft drinks and other prepared foods to sweeten them.
Viruses such as viral gastroenteritis, rotavirus, and norovirus are some of the most common culprits of infectious diarrhea. Sometimes, bacteria can contaminate food and water. These include Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shigella. Parasites such as Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium enteritis, and Entamoeba histolytica can also infect the body through food and water.
Viruses require supportive chiropractic for diarrhea care to bolster the immune system in fighting the invader. Bacteria and parasites also respond well to chiropractic and natural interventions.
Travelers’ diarrhea is a common occurrence for individuals traveling to developing countries. It can be caused by drinking water or eating food contaminated by various viruses, bacteria, or parasites. This condition often lasts only a few days, but so does vacation. Our best advice for our patients is to drink bottled water and use some of it to wash any fresh produce before enjoying it. While this won’t eliminate any contamination from restaurant meals or café snacks, it will reduce the opportunities for exposure to the microbes that most frequently cause Travelers’ diarrhea.
As with constipation, some medications can cause or worsen diarrhea. In fact, the number one side effect of antibiotics is diarrhea. Another classification of medications that can cause diarrhea is anti-cancer drugs. When it isn’t possible to reduce the dose or discontinue medication, we work hard to strengthen the intestinal tract so that diarrhea is less likely to occur.
Symptoms of Constipation and Diarrhea
While everyone’s body is different, there are specific symptoms that most people experience with constipation and diarrhea. Constipation occurs when an individual has three or fewer bowel movements weekly. This is important because many people mistakenly think they are constipated when their bowels don’t move for a day or two. If the bowels aren’t moving for a day or two, we encourage our patients to drink more water, eat more fresh produce, and incorporate more healthy movement into their day.
Constipation isn’t merely infrequent bowel movements. It also includes painful or hard-to-pass bowel movements. The stool is often dry, lumpy, or hard. Once a bowel movement is complete, the person often feels like they need to pass additional stool even when there is none ready to be passed.
Passing at least three loose, watery stools in a day is the primary symptom of diarrhea. Since diarrhea results from intestinal upheaval, it can also cause cramping, an intense urge to use the bathroom, and loss of control over the bowels.
When an infection causes diarrhea, it can be present with additional symptoms. These include some classic signs of any infection, such as fever, chills, dizziness, and vomiting. The stool can also contain blood in the case of a diarrheal infection.
How Chiropractic Can Help Constipation or Diarrhea?
Chiropractic for constipation and diarrhea focuses on identifying and relieving the underlying cause of the symptoms. No matter which condition a patient has, here at Vital Wellness Center, we work to improve the functioning of the nerve system. Nerves are crucial to intestinal health because nerves propel stool through the digestive tract.
We use chiropractic adjustments to ensure the neurological system is optimized. We realign the spine so that the spinal cord and nerves that move out from the spinal cord are free to carry the messages they need to maintain good health.
Another means we have of providing natural care for gut health here at Vital Wellness Center, is lifestyle recommendations. We want our patients to have the best health possible, not just a lack of painful digestive symptoms. We examine each patient’s diet and develop nutritional plans to help give their bodies the resources needed to restore worn tissues, rebuild muscle, and reclaim excellent health.
Get Natural Constipation and Diarrhea Relief
If you suffer from periodic bouts of constipation and diarrhea, you don’t need to live with the inconvenience and pain they bring anymore. Perhaps you’ve made over-the-counter pharmaceuticals a part of your daily routine. Please know these are only masking symptoms while costing you money. At Vital Wellness Center, our chiropractor, Dr. Foss, specializes in helping patients like you regain optimal bowel health as well as health in general. Give us a call today to get answers to your questions or to schedule chiropractic for a gut health consultation.