It is not uncommon to see diabetics complaining of severe constipation. The reason for this is that diabetes causes the autonomic nervous system to malfunction. Constipation however is not a separate disease entity in diabetics but is rather a symptom which is characterized by decreased frequency of bowel movements, hard stools, and pain with bowel movements.
Diabetes especially when it is poorly controlled impacts the functioning of the nerves that provide nourishment to the gastrointestinal tract and also affects peristalsis. Because of this, the food that is eaten does not get absorbed and digested causing the food to remain within the stomach. The nerves supplying nourishment to the pyloric sphincter also gets affected in poorly controlled diabetes leading to significant delay in gastric emptying.
Due to the nerves getting affected, the whole process of digestion of food becomes difficult. This is what causes constipation in diabetics. It is quite common for diabetics to resort to home treatments for treating constipation. This article gives a brief overview of some of the ways to treat constipation in diabetics at home.
Best Ways to Treat Constipation in Diabetics at Home
To treat constipation in people with diabetes at home, the following steps should be followed diligently:
High Fiber Diet. It is extremely vital for diabetes affected individual to have plenty of fiber in their diet. There are two varieties of fibers of which one is soluble and the other insoluble. A diet high on fibers helps in making the stools moist and bulky. This allows the stool to easily pass through the colon and out through the rectum.
Foods high on fibers include cereals, whole grains, oats, green vegetables like spinach, fruits like apples and berries are believed to be extremely beneficial for diabetics suffering from constipation.
Increased Water Intake. Drinking plenty of water is also necessary for diabetics to avoid constipation. This is because if an individual does not take enough amount of water then the fluid requirement of the body is fulfilled by the food that is ingested. This makes digestion process tough and makes the stools hard. It is essential for an individual with diabetes to drink at least 2 liters of water every day.
Diligent Workouts. it is a must for diabetics to indulge in some form of physical activity or the other. This may be in the form of walks or working out in the gym. Moderate amount of physical activity helps in controlling the blood sugars and also aids in the digestion process and moving the food beyond the stomach from where it can be digested and passed out of the body in the form of stools. Even 20 minutes of treadmill or a brisk walk or cycling is good enough to prevent constipation in diabetics.
Probiotic Intake. Daily intake of probiotics in the form of yogurt or other supplements that are easily available in the market is essential for prevention of constipation in diabetics. Probiotics contain healthy bacteria which are essential for digestion of food and prevent constipation.
Laxatives. Use of laxatives is also found to be beneficial for constipation in diabetics. There are different forms of laxatives but the commonly used are the stool softeners. These stool softeners are easily available in the market and they do not require prescription.
Blood Sugar Control. This is also essential for preventing constipation in diabetics. If the blood sugars are not adequately controlled then the likelihood of things getting complicated increases. Thus it is recommended to take the medication provided by the physician diligently, exercise regularly, and maintain proper diet as suggested by the nutritionist to keep the sugars in check and preventing constipation in diabetics.
In conclusion, constipation is one of the most common complications of diabetes. This may arise due to inadequate fiber in the diet, lack of physical activity, or not taking medications as prescribed. If the individual ensures to eliminate all these risk factors, then it is quite easy to prevent constipation in diabetes[1,2].
It has been seen that elderly population with diabetes complain a lot about fecal impaction but this is limited only to elderly bedridden people who are diabetic and is not seen in the younger population. However, in such cases manual removal of stools needs to be done which is a rather tedious procedure[1,2].
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