Irregularity is one of those things that no one likes to talk about. It’s personal and, well, a little embarrassing. But if you’re one of the millions of people who’s ever been constipated, you know it can put a real damper on your day.

The first thing to realize when you’re talking about constipation is that “regularity” is a relative term. Everyone has his or her own natural rhythm. Ask four people to define regularity, and you’re likely to get at least four different answers. Normal bowel habits can span anywhere from three bowel movements a day to three a week, according to Marvin Schuster, M.D., professor of medicine with a joint appointment in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases at Francis Scott Key Medical Center, both in Baltimore.

“One of the most common forms of constipa­tion is imaginary or misconceived constipation,” says Schuster. It’s based on the idea that if you don’t have the “magical” one bowel movement a day, then something’s wrong. Constipation has a lot to do with a person’s comfort level, says Peter Banks, M.D., director of Clinical Gastroenterology Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and lecturer on medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. People who are constipated often strain a lot in the bathroom, produce unusually hard stools, and feel gassy and bloated.

Schuster calls it “constipation” if you have fewer than three bowel movements a week or if you experience a marked change”in your normal bowel patterns. A sudden change in bowel habits merits a visit to your doctor to rule out any more serious underlying problems (see “Hello, Doctor?”). But for the occasional bout of constipation, here are some tips to put you back on track:

Get moving. Exercise seems not only to boost your fitness but to promote regularity as well. “The thinking is that lack of activity puts the bowels to rest,” says Banks. That may partially explain why older people, who may be more sedentary, and those who are bedridden are prone to becoming constipated. “We encourage people to get up and be more active,” says Banks. So gear up and get moving. You don’t have to run a marathon; a simple walking workout doesn’t take much time and can be very beneficial. When it comes to regularity, even a little exercise is better than none at all.

Raise your glass. Drinking an adequate amount of liquids may help to alleviate constipation or ! prevent it from happening in the first place. The reason for this is simple. “If you dehydrate yourself or drink too little fluid, that will dry out your stool as well and make it hard to pass,” says Schuster, On the other hand, some people have the misconception that if you drink far more than you need, you can treat constipation. Schuster disagrees, saying the excess fluid will just get urinated out.

To achieve a balanced intake of liquids, a good rule of thumb is to drink eight cups of fluid a day, says Mindy Hermann, R.D., a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. (This rule of thumb doesn’t apply, however, if you have a kidney or liver problem on any other medical condition that may require restricting your intake of fluid.) Drink even more ” when it’s hot or when you’re exercising. Hermann: suggests that athletes weigh themselves before an ” after a workout. Any weight lost during the activity reflects water loss. To replace it, they should drink two cups of liquid for every lost pound of body weight.

For those who are constipated, all liquids are not created equal. Avoid drinking a lot of coffee other caffeinated drinks, urges Elyse Sosin, registered dietitian and the supervisor of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Medical Center in NewYork. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, taking fluid ourl of your body when you want to retain it. She’ suggests sticking with water, seltzer, juice, or mill instead.

Don’t fight the urge. Often, because people are busy or have erratic schedules or because they don’t want to use public bathrooms, they suppress the urge to have a bowel movement. “If they do fer a period of time, it can block the urge so it doesn’t come,” explains Schuster. If at all possible, heed the call when you feel it.

Take advantage of an inborn reflex. As babies, we’re all born with a reflex to defecate a short time after we’re fed, says Schuster. With socialization, we learn to control our bladders and bowels and we inhibit this reflex. Schuster suggests that you try to this reflex by choosing one mealtime a day lying to have a movement after it. “Very :people can program the colon to respond to leal.” Schuster does point out that this works better with younger people than with the elderly.

Know your medications. A number of prescription and over-other-counter medications can cause constipation. If you are currently taking any medication, you might want to ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it could be causing your constipation. Among the drugs that can cause constipation are calcium-channel blockers taken for high blood pressure, beta-blockers, some antidepressants, narcotics and other pain medications, antihistamines (to a lesser degree), certain decongestants, and some antacids. Antacids that contain calcium or aluminum are binding and can cause constipation. When choosing an antacid, Schuster suggests you keep in . that the names of most of those with aluminium start with the letter “a.” Those that start with the letter “m” contain magnesium, which does not constipate. If you are unsure, check the ,or ask your pharmacist.

Bulk up. Many times, adding fiber or roughage to your diet is all that’s needed to ensure regularity fiber the indigestible parts of plant foods, adds to the stool and stimulates the colon to push thing along. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, is, and beans. Meats, chicken, fish, and fats come up empty-handed in the fiber category. The current recommendations for daily dietary fiber are 20 to 35 grams. “Most people eat between 10 and 15 grams,” says Hermann. So there’s plenty of room for improvement. Fiber supplements may be helpful, but most doctors and dietitians agree that it’s preferable to get your fiber from food.

Add fiber slowly. People assimilate high-fiber foods into their diet more easily if they do it gradually. “You need to add one high-fiber food at a time, start with small amounts, and wait a couple of days before adding something else so you don’t throw your system into chaos,” says Hermann. Sosin agrees and also stresses the need to “drink an adequate amount of fluids with the fiber.”

Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Select a variety of fruits and vegetables, recommends Hermann, some that are high in fiber and others that aren’t so high. Potatoes (white and sweet), apples, berries, apricots, peaches, pears, oranges, prunes, corn, peas, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower are all good choices.

Eat 6 to 11 servings of grain products daily. That’s in addition to the five servings of fruits and vegetables. Gram products include cereals, breads, and starchy vegetables (such as corn, green peas, potatoes, and lima beans). “I tell people to start out the day with a high-fiber cereal because it’s easy to do and it immediately knocks of a big chunk of the amount of fiber they should be getting during the day,” says Hermann. Check the labels on cereal boxes, anything with more than five or six grams of fiber per serving qualifies as high fiber. If you don’t like any so-called “high fiber” cereals, line up the boxes of cereal that you would be willing to eat and pick the one with the most fiber, suggests Hermann.

Read labels when choosing breads as well. “Just because a bread is brown doesn’t mean it has a lot of fiber in it,” says Hermann. Find a bread that has at least two grams of fiber per slice. Watch the portion size, too, when looking for high fiber foods. “Sometimes they will give you a very large size that’s unrealistic for one serving,” says Sosin.

Bring home the beans. Dried beans and legumes ­whether pinto, red, lima, navy, or garbanzo-are excellent sources of fiber. Many people don’t like them because of the gassiness they may cause. Cooking beans properly can ease this problem considerably. Hermann’s technique for cooking less “explosive” dried beans. Soak the beans overnight then dump the water out. Pour new water in, and cook the beans for about 30 minutes. Throw thal, water out, put in new water, and cook for another 30 minutes. Drain the water out, put new water ii and finish cooking.

Cut back on refined foods. You can bump up you fiber intake by switching from refined foods to less-refined foods whenever possible. Switch for highly processed cereal to a whole-grain cereal, move from heavily cooked vegetables to less ­cooked vegetables, and choose whole-grain products over products made with white flour. A glass of orange juice, for instance, provides 0.1 grams of fiber, while eating an orange gives you 2.9 grams. And while a serving of potato chips has only 0.6 grams of fiber, a serving of popcorn supplies 2.5 grams. “As soon as you start juicing something or straining it or taking the pulp out, you’re taking out the fiber,” says Hermann.

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Flatulence – Treating Flatulence

Flatulence – Information and Treatment for Flatulence

For stand-up comedians, the subject of flatulence is sure to generate lots of snickering, giggles, and guffaws. But for those who suffer from this distressing-not to mention embarrassing­ problem, it’s no laughing matter.

” Everyone passes a certain amount of flatus-or “breaks wind,” as we delicately describe it.

Normally, from 400 to 2,000 milliliters of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane are expelled each day from the anus. Most of the time, this happens without inviting notice through sound or smell. But under some circumstances and in some people, undigested food products pass from the small intestine into the large intestine (colon), where the mass is fermented by large amounts of bacteria that are normally present there. The benign bugs of the colon are not choosy. Whatever comes their way goes right on their menu. It is the bacterially produced gas that gives flatus its characteristic odor when expelled.

If you are a stoic or a recluse, you may simply be able to ignore that gaseous excess and its audible effects. If you’re neither, there are some things you can do to prevent or relieve flatulence. Here’s how:

Eat to beat it. “Carbohydrates may be problematic ” for some people,” says Lawrence S. Friedman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. But before you cut out nutritious carbohydrates, try eliminating simple carbohydrates-those refined sugars, like fructose and sucrose, and white-flour foods that may taste good but are not very good for you, especially if you have a flatulence problem.

Minimize milk consumption. “Milk-the so-called perfect food-does cause gas for some people,” says Sharon Fleming, Ph.D., associate professor of food science in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley. Some people don’t have enough of the enzyme lactase in their gut or intestine to digest the milk sugar lactose. Drinking skim milk and buttermilk instead won’t solve the problem either; the lactose is in the nonfat part. Cultured buttermilk may have a little less lactose, but the taste doesn’t agree with everyone. If you cut down on or eliminate milk for a few days and you still have a flatulence problem, however, you can feel assured that milk is not the cause.

Add a little enzyme. If you are lactose intolerant but don’t want to give up milk, you can try one of the over-the-counter products, such as Lactaid and Dairy Ease, that contain lactase enzyme, which helps to break down lactose. Be sure to follow the package directions carefully.

Banish the offenders. “Some foods are known to be flatulogenics-or flatus producers,” says Norton Rosensweig, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He recommends giving up the most common ones (see “Gassers” for a list of these) and then when you feel that the flatulence problem has been relieved, start adding the foods back one by one. If your body can tolerate small quantities, you can gradually increase your intake.

Soak your beans. Beans are a great source of fiber and protein, but for many people, eating them can be an “explosive” enterprise. Rather than give up beans, however, you can try adjusting the way you prepare them. Mindy Hermann, R.D., a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, suggests the following technique for decreasing the flatulogenic effects of beans: Soak the beans overnight, then dump the water out. Pour new water in, and cook the beans for about half an hour. Throw that water out, put in new water, and cook for another 30 minutes. Drain the water out for the last time, put new water in, and finish cooking.

Try Beano. This over-the-counter food modifier contains an enzyme that breaks down some of the sugars that can cause gassiness. You may find that it helps make foods such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, oats, and other vegetables and legumes more tolerable. Follow the package directions.

Stay calm. Emotional stress can playa major role in worsening a flatulence problem. The gastro­intestinal tract is exquisitely sensitive to anxiety, anger, and depression. A network of nerves connects this area of the body to the brain, and when you are under stress, muscles in the abdomen tighten. The results are painful spasms. “Eating while under stress also makes you swallow air, which can worsen the problem,” says Friedman.

Get physical. Sometimes, flatulence is less a matter of a faulty diet than of a faulty digestive process; the smooth passage of foods down the digestive tract may be hindered. Exercise helps to regulate the process, notes Friedman, who recommends taking a walk when things get uncomfortable. You can also apply pressure to your abdomen or lie facedown on the floor with a pillow bunched up under your abdomen to help relieve discomfort. Rocking back and forth on the floor with your knees drawn up to your chest and your arms wrapped around your legs may also help. So might a heating pad placed on your abdomen.

Bust the belch. Habits that can lead to excessive belching can also cause problems with flatulence.

Get activated. Activated charcoal tablets, available without a prescription, may help to absorb some excess gas and calm flatulence. If you are taking any prescription medications, however, ask your pharmacist whether the activated charcoal will interfere with them.

Reach for relief. A variety of nonprescription preparations containing simethicone (such as Mylanta and Maalox) may ease gassiness.

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Diarrhea - Treament of Diarrhoea with Remedies

Diarrhea - Curing Diarrhoea Fast and Effectively

You may blame it on a 24-hour bug or something you ate, but if you’re like the average American, you’ll suffer once or twice this year from diarrhea-frequent, watery bowel movements that may be accompanied by painful cramps or nausea and vomiting.

Gastroenteritis-the catch-all medical term for intestinal flu, viral infection, and food poisoning­is the second leading cause of missed work time (the common cold beats it).

Diarrhea is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but generally no big deal in otherwise healthy adults. However, if diarrhea becomes a chronic condition, the situation changes. If it affects the very young, the elderly, or the chronically ill, it can be dangerous. And if you’re not careful to drink enough fluids, you could find yourself complicating what should have been a simple situation.

What causes diarrhea? Because the condition generally lasts only a few days, doctors don’t usually culture the stool to diagnose what started it in the first place. It’s most often due to a viral infection, which antibiotics can’t fight. You just have to tough it out for a couple of days. The virus has invaded the bowel, causing it to absorb excessive fluid, which leads to the watery stools. You may also experience cramping, nausea and vomiting, headache, fever, malaise, and even upper-respiratory-tract symptoms, such as a runny nose. One clue: If members of your family all get sick, but at different times, it’s likely a virus that got passed around. Bacteria, which often cause traveler’s diarrhea in certain parts of the world, can also be responsible for diarrhea as the result of food poisoning. “When the whole family goes on a picnic and six hours later, they’re all sick, that’s a classic sign of food poisoning,” says Rosemarie L. Fisher, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Digestive Diseases at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Much rarer are microbes like amoebae and giardia that try to set up permanent housekeeping in your bowel, causing diarrhea that lasts for weeks or months. You can get these from contaminated food or water, public swimming pools, and communal hot tubs.

Certain drugs, especially antibiotics, can have diarrhea as a side effect. Magnesium-containing antacids and artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol are often overlooked culprits.

Unless diarrhea persists, you usually don’t find out its cause. Treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms and at preventing dehydration, the most serious consequence of diarrhea.

So what can you do?

Ride it out. If you’re not very young or old or suffering from any chronic illness, it may be safe just to put up with it for a couple of days.

“Although there’s no definite proof that diarrhea is a cleansing action, it probably serves some purpose,” explains Richard Bennett, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Keep hydrated. In the meantime, make sure you “maintain your fluid and electrolyte balance,” as the doctors say. Obviously, you can lose a lot of liquid in diarrhea, but you also lose electrolytes, which are minerals like sodium and potassium, that are critical in the running of your body. Here’s how to replace what you’re losing:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. No one agrees on which fluid is best-again, because of the electrolyte problem. The experts do agree you need at least two quarts of fluid a day, three if you’re running a fever. Plain water lacks electrolytes, although you may want to drink this part of the time. Weak tea with a little sugar is a popular choice. Some vote for Gatorade, although Fisher points out it’s constituted to replace fluids lost through sweating, not for diarrhea, a whole different ball game. Defizzed, nondiet soda pop is recommended by some, although anything with a lot of sugar can increase diarrhea. So can caffeine. Fruit juices, particularly apple and prune, have a laxative effect, but others may be OK.
  • Buy an over-the-counter electrolyte replacement formula. Pedialyte, Rehydralyte, and Ricelyte are available over-the-counter from your local drug store. These formulas contain fluids and minerals in the proper proportion.

Keep your liquids cool but not ice-cold. Whatever you choose to drink, keep it cool, suggests Peter A. Banks, M.D., director of Clinical Gastroenterology Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and lecturer on medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. It will be less irritating that way. Sip, don’t guzzle; it will be easier on your insides.

Sip some chicken broth. Or any broth, says Banks. But have it lukewarm, not hot, and add some salt.

Rest in bed. Give your body a chance to fight the bug that’s causing this.

Put a heating pad on your belly. Banks says it will help relieve abdominal cramps.

Try yogurt. You’ll want to make sure you get a product that contains live lactobacillus cultures, which are friendly bugs that normally live in the gut. “There are anecdotal reports but no good studies that yogurt works,” says Bennett. “But there’s no harm in trying.”

Eat light. Soups and gelatin may go down easy. Banks recommends bland foods like rice, noodles, and bananas. Potatoes, toast, cooked carrots, soda crackers, and skinless, defatted chicken are also easy on the digestive system.

Take the pink stuff. Stopping the diarrhea with an over-the-counter medication may not be the best thing for your body. Diarrhea probably reflects your body’s attempt to get rid of a troublesome bug. If you do feel it’s necessary, however, Pepto­Bismol is probably the safest over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine, says Bennett. And studies show it may have a mild antibacterial effect, which would be most useful in traveler’s diarrhea, since this condition is usually bacteria related.

Take Kaopectate or Imodium A-D. Again, you’re probably better off going without antidiarrheal medication. If you absolutely need some relief, however, you can try one of these over-the-counter medications. Imodium A-D slows down the motility, or movement, of the gut; Kaopectate absorbs fluid. Bennett does not recommend these for elderly patients because decreased motility can be dangerous in an infection and can lead to worse problems.

Don’t do dairy. Avoid milk or other dairy products like cheese during the time that you’re having diarrhea as well as for one to three weeks afterward. The small intestine, where milk is digested, is affected by diarrhea and simply won’t work as well for a while. “Milk may sound soothing,” says Fisher. “But it could actually make the diarrhea worse.”

Cut out caffeine. Just as it stimulates your nervous system, caffeine jump-starts your intestines. And that’s the last thing you need to do in diarrhea.

Say no to sweet treats. High concentrations of sugar can increase diarrhea. The sugar in fruit can do the same.

Steer clear of greasy or high-fiber foods. These are harder for your gut to handle right now. It needs foods that are kinder and gentler.

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Digestive System Problems - Belching - Remedies for Its Treatment

Belching - Treatment of Belching from So Many Remedies Available

In certain cultures, a belch after dinner is traditionally considered a compliment to the cook. In the Western world, if an adult belches after dinner-or at any time, for that matter-it is considered a breach of manners.

Babies burp, and it is certainly a satisfying sound to the mother or father who has been patting or rubbing the baby’s back. Children belch, too, because they think it’s a funny game, and sometimes the competition gets noisily intense. Over the years, however, such child’s play can turn into a habit of frequently and unconsciously swallowing air-a habit that can result in belching.

If you suffer from aerophagia-the medical name for repetitive belching-you have probably endured the embarrassment of an unexpected outburst at precisely the most inelegant moment. But your habit can easily be broken if you just become aware of when and how you swallow air and stop doing it. Here’s how:

Stifle it. “Chronic belchers may force lhemselves to belch because it provides temporary relief,” says Lawrence S. Friedman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. In fact, it has been demonstrated that repeated belching produces more of the same. On a fluoroscope (a special type of X ray used to visualize a body part in motion), a belching person can be seen forcing air into the mouth and esophagus. So if you’re a chronic belcher, you need to make a concious effort to squelch that belch.

Don’t smoke. Here is yet another reason to give up smoking if you remain in the ever-dwindling population that still engages in the habit. “By inhaling on cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, you are swallowing excessive amounts of air-much more than the belch can let out,” says Gayle Randall, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine. And if you are counting on chewing gum or sucking on hard candy to help you kick the habit, think again; these activities stimulate air swallowing, too.

Mind your manners. Mom was right again when she told you not to talk with your mouth full. “This habit allows air into the mouth, which is then swallowed with the food,” says Thomas Stah M.D., assistant professor of general surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Anyway, he adds, it’s an unappealing form of behavior.

Eat slowly. People who gulp down food and beverages are, for one thing, swallowing excessive amounts of air. They’re also crowding the stomach with too much to digest, which causes a gaseous buildup. “Once you take a mouthful, put down your fork and chew your food well before taking another bite,” advises Randall.

Relax. Anxiety and stress can cause you to swal101 more often, which increases the amount of air taken in. “You’ll have to make a conscious effort II minimize air swallowing even though you may feel that your mouth is dry, because you’ll only complicate your stress with stomach gas,” says Stahl.

Don’t catch cold. One sure thing about a cold is that it brings along postnasal drip, which will probably make you swallow much more frequently, So try to blow your nose to clear your nasal passages. Better yet, you should try to protect yourself from exposure to cold viruses.

Avoid bubbly beverages. Drinking carbonated beverages, including beer, creates air in the stomach. “Stay away from these drinks,” advises Randall.

Go strawless. Drinking through a straw will only increase the amount of air you swallow.

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