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What is Lazy Bowel & How Is It Treated? Causes, Symptoms, Prognosis of Lazy Bowel

What is Lazy Bowel?

Lazy Bowel is an arbitrary term used to describe delayed or slow digestion.  It is not a medical condition but is actually a symptom of something interfering with digestion. A person with slowed or delayed digestion will have other symptoms like irregular bowel movements, frequent bouts of constipation, and straining while passing bowels. People with Lazy Bowel tend to pass very hard stools. Since these stools are very difficult to pass and can lead to complications like hemorrhoids and pain with bowel movements [1, 2, 3].

Some people have problems with digestion as a result of chronic use of stimulant laxatives to include castor oil and senna. The function of stimulant laxatives is to push the food through the digestive tract by a series of muscle contractions. If these stimulants are taken chronically the body gets dependent on these medications causing slow digestion if these stimulants are not taken [1, 2, 3].

What is Lazy Bowel?

What Causes Lazy Bowel?

As stated above, people who use stimulant laxatives chronically are at risk for developing Lazy Bowel.  There are also certain classes of medications that end to affect digestion by making it slow leading to Lazy Bowel.  Opioids are the most common medication that affects digestion.  Although fiber is considered to be the best way to treat constipation, excess of fiber in the body may at times affect digestion making it slow causing Lazy Bowel.  This is because fiber causes excessive stool to form in the rectum which is detrimental for a person with Lazy Bowel [3].

Another potential cause for Lazy Bowel includes a block or a growth in the digestive tract.  This is because the growth may interfere with proper digestion of food.  People with irritable bowel syndrome tend to have frequent bouts of diarrhea, gas, and constipation.  This is also one of the causes of Lazy Bowel.  The primary cause for irritable bowel syndrome is not yet known but what researchers know is that people with this condition have ultrasensitive intestines [3].

Studies have also shown that people with an underactive thyroid also tend to have slowed digestion and have Lazy Bowel. Any sort of damage to the nerves in the digestive tract is also one of the causes for Lazy Bowel. This can be caused due to traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries [3].

What are the Symptoms of Lazy Bowel?

A person with Lazy Bowel will experience an urge to have a bowel movement very infrequently. They may also pass bowels less than two to three times a week.  The quantity of stools passed will also be less than normal.  A person with Lazy Bowel will complain of abdominal pain and bloating along with nausea [3].

How is Lazy Bowel Treated?

The treatment of Lazy Bowel depends on its underlying cause.  However, there are cases where a direct cause is not able to be identified.  In such instances, physicians prefer to wait and watch and recommend the patient to keep a record of their symptoms as and when different treatment strategies are tried.  Some of the potential treatment options for Lazy Bowel include: [3]

Monitor Fiber Intake: Excessive intake of fiber may make Lazy Bowel worse but in the same token very less fiber intake makes the stool firm and in a person with chronic constipation it will make passing of stools even further difficult.  It is best to consult with a physician for recommendations about the fiber intake that is most optimal for Lazy Bowel [3].

Decreased Stimulant Laxatives: Another treatment option is to reduce the use of stimulant laxatives as they tend to worsen the symptoms.  It is recommended that people should consult their physician about any alternate forms of treatment for speeding up passage of food through digestive tract [3].

Enema: This is also quite beneficial for people with Lazy Bowel.  Enema involves injecting a fluid through the rectum to allow bowels to pass through easily.  However, it should be noted that long term use of enema should only be done under physician recommendations [3].

Bowel Retraining: This behavioral treatment is quite effective for people with Lazy Bowel.  This therapy involves using biofeedback to help the patient retrain the bowels to empty at regular intervals [3].

Surgery: This treatment is only reserved as a last resort.  The surgery involves placement of a colostomy bag so that the undigested food goes directly into the bag instead of through the rectum. This is beneficial for people who have severe constipation unresponsive to standard course of treatment generally caused by an underlying neurological condition [3].

Interferential Electrical Stimulation: This is a treatment that makes use of low voltage electric currents to speed up the digestion process and improve the way the nerves in the digestive tract functions. This is now believed to be an alternate of surgery for people with Lazy Bowel [3].

In conclusion, Lazy Bowel is not a medical condition but is a common name given to delayed or slowed digestion.  If the digestion of a person is delayed and slow then it becomes difficult for that person to pass bowels normally.  Lazy Bowel also causes the food to pass through the digestive tract very slowly causing the person to have hard stools, pain in the abdomen, and painful bowel movements [1, 2, 3].

There are many causes for a person to have Lazy Bowel that have been elucidated above which includes certain lifestyle habits which are quite easy to change.  Lazy Bowel can also be caused due to certain underlying medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.  A person with Lazy Bowel is at risk for developing conditions like hemorrhoids [1, 2, 3].

Treatment for Lazy Bowel depends on the cause of it.  Monitoring fiber intake, decreasing use of stimulant laxatives, eating foods that are easy to digest are some of the ways to manage Lazy Bowel.  Surgery is reserved as a last resort and is done on people who have underlying neurological disorders that cause Lazy Bowel.  The procedure involves placement of a colostomy bag as an alternate route to pass bowels.  Other than this, making good dietary choices and abstaining from foods that may be heavy for the stomach are some of the other treatment options for Lazy Bowel [1, 2, 3].


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 1, 2022

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