Painful Bowel Movements

by Sam Malone

Painful bowel movements are common among the urban population when a sedentary life is commonplace.  While for many people it is an occasional occurrence, for some it can become a chronic problem. Most often, painful stools are caused by constipation. Dietary and lifestyle changes can help to ease bowel movements and in severe cases, a laxative may be administered.

More serious however, are the other causes of painful stools which require treatment such as anal fissures. These are tears in the membranes of the anus or rectum which can make bowel movements a very painful proposition. Diseases such as Crohn’s disease and other infections may also result in the inflammation of the anus and rectum, resulting in painful bowels movements. Chronic constipation may also lead to the development of hemorrhoids which are caused by enlarged blood vessels in the anus or rectum. Blood clots which may form within a hemorrhoid can be quite painful and require surgery.

Painful bowel movements during pregnancy are quite common. Some women experience some pain while defecating due to diarrhea and in others it is caused by constipation. Other unlucky ones experience both diarrhea and constipation and the strain put on the rectum during bowel movements may lead to hemorrhoids.  

Another cause of painful bowel movements is an abscess in the anal region. Beginning at the site of a hemorrhoid or fissure, the abscess can spread to surrounding tissues. Surgery and treatment with antibiotics are the only alternatives in such cases.

The most serious causes of painful bowel movements are tumors that obstruct the rectal passage. These tumors that are caused by colorectal cancers usually afflict older people. For this reason people over the age of 60 who experience chronic painful bowel movements should have themselves checked by a doctor.

Hemorrhoids are very painful and may not heal immediately. Every time the affected person tries defecating, the hemorrhoids are irritated. They may experience painful bowel movements on a regular basis.

Once the doctor has diagnosed a problem with constipation and ruled out other more serious causes, you will probably be given a mild laxative. This should be sufficient to soften the stools and ease their passage through the rectum. Severe cases of constipation may require the use of a suppository or an enema.

There are many home remedies that you can use to treat painful bowel movements arising out of constipation. If you suffer from chronic constipation then you should try making changes to your diet and lifestyle. Dietary changes include:

  • Water: Drink adequate amounts of water. Water can help soften the stools, making their passage through the rectum and anus much easier. Make sure that you drink more water during the summer to compensate for the additional loss of body fluids.
  • Dietary Fiber: Ensure that your diet has plenty of dietary fiber. Lack of fiber in the diet is one of the main causes of constipation. Sources of dietary fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and whole grain cereals.
  • Alcohol and Caffeine: Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine based drinks as these will dehydrate you and exacerbate your constipation.
Lifestyle changes include:
  • Exercise: A regular exercise schedule such as walking or swimming every day can work wonders to battle constipation.
  • Tobacco: Quit smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Yoga: Many yoga asanas help to stimulate the digestive tract and aid digestion. Many of these are extremely helpful in treating constipation. Consult a yoga instructor to know more about how yoga can help in cases of constipation and other disorders.
There are many other home remedies one can try to treat an acute case of constipation. They include:
  • Fruits: Certain fruits such as bananas and papaya have a laxative effect and can soften the stools.
  • Prunes: Prunes have a reputation for being able to cure even the most stubborn cases of constipation. Try drinking some fresh prune juice before going to bed.
  • Rhubarb: This natural laxative can be cooked and eaten or drunk in the pureed form along with honey.
  • Blackstrap molasses – Two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses taken at night can help to relieve constipation. Try disguising the taste with honey if you find it unpalatable.
  • Castor Oil: An age old remedy for constipation, castor oil can help relieve even the most stubborn cases of constipation. Take 3 to 5 tablespoons of castor oil at night before going to sleep.
  • Psyllium Seed Husk: Also known as isabgol or ispaghula, these seeds can provide your body with the roughage it requires for regular bowel movements. This remedy is especially useful in cases where the diet is fiber deficient.
  • Avoid frequent use of laxatives and enemas as you may develop a tolerance to them. Consult your doctor if your constipation does not clear up or if your bowel movements continue to be painful.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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