Healthy Living

Watch your Digestive Health; Diarrhea, Constipation both can be annoying!   

Watch your Digestive Health; Diarrhea, Constipation both can be annoying!  

 

Your digestive health (DH) is directly impacted by the foods you eat and the lifestyle you live. What you eat and the quality of your DH are intertwined.   Diarrhea and constipation are two common conditions with which most of us suffer at one time or the other and both extremes are unwelcome. Individual habits may vary; some people may go to the toilet twice a day, others may go after 2 days. Same is about the quantity; one may be satisfied with passing out of 150 gm stools other may feel unhappy even with 300 gm. Diarrhea is the result of your poop passing too quickly through the large intestine, where most of the water content is absorbed. Loose stools can be due to many factors, including stomach viruses and food-borne illness. They can also result from food allergies or intolerances, like lactose intolerance, or from other digestive issues.

Diarrhea

You have diarrhea if you have loose stools three or more times in one day. Acute diarrhea is diarrhea that lasts a short time. This problem is common and usually lasts about one or two days, but it may last longer. Then it goes away on its own. Diarrhea lasting more than a few days may be a sign of a more serious problem. Someone with diarrhea may experience one or more of the following: Pain or cramping in the abdomen, frequent and urgent need to go to the toilet, nausea, loss of control of bowel movements, bloody stools, vomiting, fever chills, and dizziness. If diarrhea persists, it can lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include: thirst, urinating less, dark-colored urine, dry mouth, feeling tired, sunken eyes or cheeks, light-headedness or fainting, and a decreased skin turgor. In children, additional signs of dehydration can include a lack of energy and the absence of tears while crying. Most diarrheas go away on its own in a few days. When diarrhea lasts for several days, tests are needed:

  • Blood TestA complete blood count can show signs of infection, anemia, inflammation, or imbalances of electrolytes, to help determine the cause of your diarrhea.
  • Stool TestThis might be recommended to determine whether bacteria or a parasite is causing diarrhea or it is associated with blood or not.
  • Hydrogen Breath TestThis test is used to diagnose lactose intolerance by measuring the amount of hydrogen in your breath. When someone is lactose intolerant, undigested lactose produces high levels of hydrogen in the breath. A high level of hydrogen will lead to a diagnosis of lactose intolerance.
  • Fasting TestThis will help determine if a food intolerance or allergy is the cause of diarrhea. Your physician may ask you to avoid certain foods, including dairy, wheat, carbohydrates, or other ingredients in an effort to see if your symptoms of diarrhea respond to those diet changes.
  • Colonoscopy colonoscopyinvolves, following a special diet the day before the exam, typically with no solid foods and usually not eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before the exam. One may also need to take a laxative or use an enema kit to empty colon. During the procedure, the tube is inserted into the rectum and the camera gives the doctor a view of the inside of the entire colon to check for abnormalities.

Diarrhea can become dangerous if it leads to severe dehydration. Visit your doctor right away if you experience any of the symptoms: longer than 2 days, accompanied by a fever of 102 degrees F or higher, Six or more loose stools in 24 hours, Severe, unbearable pain in the abdomen or rectum, Bloody stools or stools that are black and tarry or contain pus, frequent vomiting and or signs of dehydration.

Constipation

Some people may lose the spontaneity of pooping for a variety of reasons such as holding back the urge to defecate, childbirth trauma, surgery, medications that slow bowel transit, or other reasons. Some common health conditions such as diabetes can weaken the nerves in the colon and result in severe constipation.  People who are constipated may experience any one or more of the symptoms :Difficulty passing stools, Feeling of incomplete emptying after defecation, Hard stool, Painful bowel movements, Reduced frequency or quantity of stool, Straining too much.

Normal stools is soft and formed but not hard or lumpy. They are passed without urgency or straining. A sudden change from a person's normal bowel pattern should be reported to a doctor. Colour of the stool also matter. Look out for jet-black stool. Though it could be from something as harmless as iron supplements the color could be a sign of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. It also depends on what kinds of food you’ve ingested. Bright red stool could be due to passing of beets. Leafy vegetables can cause green stool, while certain medications can make your poop look white or clay-colored. Looking at the shape of stool, perfect poop is log-like and S-shaped, not broken up into pieces. Part of getting that log-style shape, compared with poop that comes out more pebbly-looking, comes from eating fiber, which lends bulk to stool and acts as a glue to keep the poop stuck together as it exits your body. Pencil-thin poops, on the other hand, can be a sign of rectal cancer, which narrows the opening through which stool passes. Going for the odor of the stool, pungent stool is often a sign of infection. Terrible-smelling poops are a signature side effect of one stomach parasite called Giardia. It could also suggest a more serious digestive condition such as ulcerative colitisCrohn's disease, or celiac disease. The important thing is that you’re consistent for your own routine. A big decrease in poop (stool) could be due to a diet change (fiber intake), which is why many people find they’re less regular on weekends or vacation — they may be eating less fiber or working out less often, both of which promote healthy digestion. Other factors affecting poop output — either a decrease or an increase — are gastrointestinal disorders, an overactive thyroid, or colon cancer.

Floating stools are often an indication of high fat content, which can be a sign of malabsorption, associated with celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis. Passing out of flatulence  anywhere from 10 to 18 times a day is normal. More time you spend in the bathroom, specifically reading, the more likely you are to develop piles i e swollen blood vessels in and around the anus. Sitting for too long on the toilet seat can also restrict blood flow around the anal area, which can make hemorrhoids worse. Also avoid carrying your mobile phone in the toilet.

DH and various foods

 

Milk can trouble you if there is lactose intolerance. When you're dealing with digestive problems, it may still be okay to eat yogurt and cheeses because they have no lactose.

 

Tomato sauce and citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, oranges, carbonated beverages, and grapefruit, are acidic and can irritate the stomach lining, causing digestive problems.

 

Fatty foods can either slow down the emptying of the stomach and worsen constipation, or speed up movement, leading to diarrhea. Avoid high-fat culprits, like butter, ice cream, red meat, and cheese, at least for a while.The problem with fried foods is the same as with fatty foods — they can move, undigested, through the body too quickly, leading to diarrhea, or stay in your digestive tract too long, causing you to feel full and bloated. If you’re constipated, you should avoid processed foods because they lack fiber. Processed foods also often contain preservatives and artificial coloring, which cause digestive trouble.

 

The artificial sweetener perhaps most associated with digestive problems is sorbitol. Once sorbitol reaches the large intestine, it often creates gas, bloating, and diarrhea.  If you’re feeling nauseated, the last thing you should have is an alcoholic drink. Alcohol is toxic to the stomach lining and changes liver metabolism. Drinking too much can cause indigestion, among other health problems. Caffeine stimulates gastrointestinal tract motility, making contents move more quickly through your system, and excessive amounts can give anyone diarrhea. So if you already have diarrhea, caffeine will only worsen your digestive problem. Tea, soda, and chocolate are other sources of caffeine. Chocolate, a sweet-tooth favorite, can be a culprit in many digestive problems, including heartburn and GERD.

 

Eating tainted or expiry date foods can cause digestive problems or worsen existing ones, including diarrhea and vomiting. Be aware of the symptoms of food poisoning — muscle pain, fatigue, and abdominal cramps.  Similarly avoid spicy foods, In general, you should choose bland foods when you’re having digestive problems, and be sure to avoid spices if you’re sensitive to them.

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