Diarrhea and Constipation: Everything You Need to Know

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Digestion and excretion are important life processes in living beings. The food that one eats is broken down and nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. The excess water is absorbed in the large intestine and the excretion process eliminates the waste fecal matter. However, if the excretion process is abnormal one can experience discomfort and difficulty. Diarrhea and constipation are the two most common abnormalities that affect bowel movements in living beings.

Diarrhea and Constipation

Diarrhea

Here are a few things to know about diarrhea:

  1. Each one has a different bowel movement. When one has a loose and watery stool combined with stomach pain and an urge to pass stools, the condition is referred to as diarrhea. 
  2. Normally it gets cured with time. 
  3. Diarrhea can be caused due to infection by a virus or bacteria. 
  4. Food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea are also common in people who live out of suitcases. 
  5. Acute diarrhea lasts for about 2 days and chronic diarrhea can last for weeks and requires medical attention.

Constipation

Here are a few facts about constipation:

  1. The problem of not experiencing an urge to empty one’s bowels is referred to as constipation. 
  2. Constipation is one of the most commonly occurring digestive problems. 
  3. Hard stools, dry bowel movements, and defecation frequency of three times per week are common symptoms of constipation. 
  4. Lack of water and fiber in the diet is the most common cause of constipation. 
  5. At times stress and other medical conditions like pregnancy, constipation can get induced.

Causes

The causes of diarrhea include:

  1. Stomach flu, 
  2. Diet change
  3. Climatic change
  4. Waterborne infection etc. 

The common causes of constipation are:

  1. Dehydration
  2. Body heat accumulation
  3. Stress
  4. Fear of passing hard stool (especially in children) 

In some cases, post-diarrhea patients can experience temporary constipation as the diet during loose motions comprise of bread, rice, apple, and toast. Similarly, post the stomach flu, the muscle inflammation in the large intestine can cause constipation or diarrhea unless the inflammation heals completely. During pregnancy too, people experience diarrhea and constipation as gestating mothers change their diet and start with iron supplements. Iron can cause constipation in many people.  

Is Constipation After Diarrhea Normal?

Though diarrhea and constipation have different causes, it is perfectly normal if one observes signs of constipation and diarrhea together. Especially in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowel disease and Crohn’s disease one can experience diarrhea followed by constipation in a cyclic fashion known as constipation diarrhea cycle. In this cycle, one experiences discomfort, dread, and delay.

Prevention and Treatment

  1. Diarrhea and constipation can be prevented by sticking to a defined diet plan. 
  2. Including plenty of water, fruits and insoluble fibers in diet, one can control constipation. 
  3. Similarly, eating limited quantities from outside and eating hygienic food can help to be safe from diarrhea. 
  4. Along with food, personal hygiene also prevents one from infections. 
  5. Walking, exercise, and maintaining the elasticity of the rectal muscles help one to have a neat bowel movement.
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