Originally published December 28 2008
Childhood Constipation: A Bigger Health Problem Than We Think
by Reuben Chow
(NaturalNews) Is your child constipated, or showing signs of constipation? If so, you may want to do something about it, especially in view of the findings of recent research conducted at Nationwide Children's Hospital. The study found that the negative impact on children suffering from constipation as well as the costs associated with the ailment are roughly as significant as those for asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Details of Study
The study team, comprising gastroenterologists and researchers from the hospital, used data from a survey which represented the national population. In particular, the team analyzed data of children aged under 18 who had been diagnosed with constipation or who were prescribed with laxatives for two years in a row (2003 and 2004), in a bid to ascertain their use of healthcare services and the costs they incurred.
Findings of Study
The study, to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics in early 2009, found that children who had constipation used healthcare services more than their counterparts who did not have the condition, to the tune of an additional $3.9 billion each year. However, despite the potential costs, both health-wise and financially speaking, constipation does not receive the same amount of health campaign publicity as other conditions like asthma and ADHD. And it is hoped that the findings of this study will help raise some awareness of the potential gravity of the condition.
"Despite being considered by many a relatively benign condition, childhood constipation has been shown to be associated with a significantly decreased quality of life. The day-to-day struggle caused by constipation can often be emotionally devastating, and can also have an impact on the overall health and well-being of affected children and their families," said Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, head of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital, the leader of the study.
And, hopefully, the increased awareness will also lead to more and earlier action on the part of parents. But before we go into that, a little more on constipation should be discussed.
What do you understand by constipation? Broadly speaking, most of us would take the condition to mean infrequent or difficult bowel movements, or both. But how infrequent should bowel movements be before one is considered constipated? That very much depends on whose point of view we are seeking.
Conventional medicine seems to think that it is within normal to go to the toilet once every couple of days. Indeed, this is stated on the National Institutes of Health website: "Some people think they are constipated if they do not have a bowel movement every day. However, normal stool elimination may be three times a day or three times a week, depending on the person."
In natural healing circles, however, many believe that our bowels should be moving at least once every day. In fact, some even state that, for optimal health, a person should be having a bowel movement for every main meal one consumes – that is at least two big toilet visits a day. Going by this definition, almost all of us would be considered constipated to some extent!
In debating this issue, let us exercise some common sense. Imagine having a meal, perhaps even a burger or a steak, and then not going to the toilet for the next 48 to 72 hours. That means that that meal you just had would be sitting in your intestines for at least that long. If that food had been left on the dinner table at room temperature, it would probably have gone bad during that time. Now, imagine it sitting in your warm innards, at body temperature. Many natural healers contend that that food would have putrefied in our bodies, releasing untold toxins for our systems to deal with!
If your child is having infrequent or difficult bowel movements, there are some natural remedies you could consider trying before you turn to pharmaceutical laxatives, which can have undesirable adverse effects.
The most obvious tip is to consume more fruits and vegetables. Refined foods and fast food tend to be constipating, and consumption of those items should be reduced, if not cut out altogether. Flaxseeds are great for relieving constipation, as is psyllium. These items are generally considered suitable for long-term use and, if taking them, one should ensure the intake of adequate amounts of water.
Prune juice is another effective option. And, if more push is needed, a supplement containing stimulating herbs such as senna leaves, cascara sagrada bark and aloe latex could be used; these plants contain chemicals which stimulate contraction of the bowel muscles.
Good bowel habits is critical for both short-term and long-term health, and taking steps toward it is something which all of us, and not just children, should attempt. There is a saying that "death begins in the colon", and there is surely good reason why it came about in the first place.
Childhood Constipation Deemed Significant Health Issue (http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/gd/applic...)
About the authorReuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbs, herb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression help, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.
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