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  • Visiting the bathroom is part of the daily human experience.

  • But occasionally, constipation strikes,

  • a condition that causes a backup in your digestive system.

  • The food you eat can take several days to exit your body.

  • And for many, constipation can become chronic,

  • meaning regularly passing lumpy hard stools accompanied by straining.

  • What's behind this unsettling phenomenon?

  • Constipation arises in the colon, also known as the large intestine.

  • This muscular organ is split into four sections:

  • the ascending,

  • transverse,

  • descending,

  • and sigmoid colon,

  • which connects with the rectum and anus.

  • The small intestine delivers stool

  • consisting of ingested food, bile, and digestive juices

  • to the large intestine.

  • As this stool moves through the colon,

  • the organ siphons off most of the water it contains,

  • transforming it from liquid to solid.

  • The longer this transmission takes,

  • the more reabsorption occurs, resulting in increasingly solid stool.

  • Once it reaches the sigmoid colon,

  • a final bout of reabsorption occurs before it enters the rectum,

  • distending its walls and telling the internal anal sphincter to relax.

  • This is the point where you can usually decide whether to physically expel

  • or retain the stool.

  • That's regulated by the pelvic floor muscles,

  • particularly the puborectalis

  • and external anal sphincter.

  • The puborectalis forms a sling-like formation around the rectum

  • called the anorectal angle.

  • And when you voluntarily relax your external anal sphincter,

  • the stool is finally expelled.

  • When you're constipated, however,

  • a desire to visit the bathroom isn't enough to coax your body into action.

  • Usually there's two factors behind this problem:

  • the stool's slow movement through the colon

  • and/or pelvic floor dysfunction.

  • In the first, stool moves excessively slowly through the intestines,

  • causing over-absorption of liquid, which makes the stool dry and hard.

  • With pelvic floor dysfunction,

  • stool becomes difficult to eliminate from the rectum

  • because of tightened pelvic floor muscles, or due to a pelvic organ prolapse,

  • usually through childbirth or aging.

  • Both of these problems make the anorectal angle more acute

  • and it becomes difficult to expel waste.

  • To identify constipation precisely,

  • researchers have developed metrics, such as the Bristol Stool Chart.

  • Most people who look at that chart

  • will be able to tell they've experienced constipation before.

  • When you're on the toilet, you should ideally be in a squatting position.

  • With your buttocks firmly on the toilet seat,

  • you can elevate your feet on a stool

  • and lean forwards with a straight back,

  • which straightens the anorectal angle and eases the passage of waste.

  • Going a day without a bowel movement isn't necessarily cause for alarm.

  • But if you are experiencing chronic constipation,

  • simple dietary and lifestyle changes,

  • like fibrous vegetables,

  • regular exercise,

  • abdominal massage,

  • and 6 to 8 cups of water per day

  • may help restore your daily trip to the toilet.

Visiting the bathroom is part of the daily human experience.

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B2 US TED-Ed stool pelvic colon intestine anal

What causes constipation? - Heba Shaheed

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    xqgoh posted on 2018/08/15
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