Constipation

 

Passing stool is a very important part of our life and daily routine, if someone doesn’t pass stool in their routine they always feel discomfort and disturb their routine and mind too.
Constipation means hardening of stool and because of hardening of stool there is difficulty in emptying of bowel usually associated with painful defecation. Constipation is a condition of the digestive system where an individual has hard feces that are difficult to expel. So constipation is a symptom not a disease. Constipation may be acute (recent onset) or chronic(long duration).

Symptoms
Patient may have:
 Few bowel movements
 Trouble having a bowel movement (straining to go)/painful defecation
 Hard or small stools
 A sense of incomplete emptying.
Belly bloating/nauseous
Abdominal cramps
 Losing appetite
Pathology behind Constipation
Slower digestion of food will lead to slower movement through digestive tract and will lead to increase water absorption from the food which causes hardening of stool.

Causes of constipation

1. Decreased water intake
A healthy adult needs to drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day, but decreased intake of water will lead to decreased food digestion process and less hydrated body will make the feces hard, so we should keep hydrated in order to have good digestion and normal feces formation.
2. Physical inactivity
Physical activity keeps metabolism high, so less physical activity will slower metabolic rate and physical inactivity will lead to very slow metabolism.
Physical inactivity also causes constipation, because during physical activity our body muscles including abdominal muscles contract and relaxes which causes intestinal stimulant for contraction and relaxation.
People with sedentary lifestyle, older people, and bed ridden patients usually suffer from constipation.
3. Decreased intake of fibers
Fibers help in digestion and they promote bowel movements, low fiber diet will lead to constipation. It is very important to consume fiber rich diet like salads, fruits, multigrain flour should be part of our diet.
4. Medicines
Some medicines that doctors prescribe to treat other health problems can cause constipation. Medicines that can cause constipation include
Antacids—used to neutralize stomach acid—that contain aluminum and calcium
Anticholinergics—used to treat muscle spasms in the intestines
Anticonvulsants-phenytoin (Dilantin) and carbamazepine (Tegretol) iron supplements—used to decrease abnormal electrical activity in the brain to prevent seizures
Antispasmodics—used to reduce muscle spasms in the intestines
Calcium channel blockers diltiazem (Cardizem) and nifedipine (Procardia)—used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease
Diuretics—used to help the kidneys remove fluid from the blood
Iron supplements—used to build up higher iron levels in the blood
Medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease
Narcotics—used to treat severe pain
Antidepressants (amitriptyline and Imipramine)
5. Life change from daily routine;
Sometimes because of travel , or any change from your daily routine habits eg; irregular meal time or sleep time, during pregnancy and change in food habits may also cause constipation.
6. Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movements
If individuals ignore the urge to have a bowel movement, the urge can gradually go away until the individual no longer feels the need to go. The longer it is delayed, the drier and harder the stool will become. In kids this is the most common cause of constipation.
7. Overuse of laxative
Some people believe a person should go to the toilet at least once a day – this is not true. However, to make sure this happens, some people self-medicate with laxatives. Using them regularly allows the body to get used to their action and gradually the dose needs to increase to get the same effect. Laxatives can be habit-forming. When a person becomes dependent on them, there is a significant risk of constipation when they are stopped.
8. Certain health problems
Diseases that tend to slow down the movement of feces through the colon, rectum, or anus can cause constipation eg Thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism), Diabetes, some neurological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders like diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel diseases and in certain cancers.
9.Aging
As a person gets older, the metabolism slows down, resulting in less intestinal activity. The muscles in the digestive tract do not work as well as they used to.

Diagnosis of Constipation
Diagnosis of constipation in patient made by full medical, surgical history, family history, complete dietary history, physical examination and by performing some diagnostic tests if need. For example, if defecation is painful, the doctor knows to look for anal problems such as a narrowed anal sphincter or an anal fissure. If small stools are the problem, eating foods low in fiber may be the cause. If the patient is experiencing significant straining, then pelvic floor dysfunction is likely. Depending upon the medical history and symptoms doctor may order for different tests

Blood tests – for thyroid hormones or calcium, or if blood loss from feces then CBC.
Abdominal X ray
Large amounts of material in the colon usually can be visualized on simple X-ray films of the abdomen, and the more severe the constipation, the more visualized on X-ray.
Barium enema
A barium enema (lower gastrointestinal [GI] series) is an X-ray study in which liquid barium is inserted through the anus to fill the rectum and colon. The barium outlines the colon on the X-rays and defines the normal or abnormal anatomy of the bowel and rectum. Tumors and narrowing (strictures) are among the abnormalities that can be detected with this test.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
Anorectal Studies
Anal Manometry– for this test, a health care professional puts a thin tube that has pressure sensors and a balloon on its tip into your anus. Once the balloon reaches your rectum and the pressure sensors are in your anus, the health care professional slowly pulls the tube out to measure muscle tone and contractions. The test takes about 30 minutes.
Balloon expulsion tests consist of a health care professional filling a balloon with different amounts of water after he or she places it into your rectum. The health care professional will give you a stopwatch and instructions to go to the restroom and measure the amount of time it takes you to push the balloon out. If you can’t push out a balloon filled with less than 150 milliliters of water, or it takes longer than 1 minute to push the balloon out, you may have a problem pushing out stool.
Defecography -emptying of the rectum can be tested in the laboratory or with special x-rays.
Sometimes depending upon the condition and other results doctor may order for CT scan or MRI too.

Treatment
In the majority of cases, constipation resolves itself without any treatment or risk to health.
The goal of treatment in constipation should not to have bowel movement every day, but one every two to three days without difficulty (without straining).
Treatment for constipation depends on
• The cause of constipation
• how bad your constipation is
• how long you’ve been constipated means it is acute or chronic
Treatment of constipation should be start with natural remedies
1. Change of dietary habits which include eating more fibers, fruits and vegetables.
2. Intake of water should be increased. Try warm liquids, especially in the morning.
3. Prune juice, act as natural laxative.
4. Lifestyle changes and increasing physical activity. Exercising every day may help prevent and relieve constipation.
5. Flax seed oil as a natural lubricant and laxative.
6. Use of Probiotics/yogurt/buttermilk.
7. Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.
OTC Laxative
Use of laxative should be as a last resort.
Stimulants: These make the muscles in the intestines contract rhythmically. These include Correctol, Dulcolax, and Senokot.
Lubricants: These help the stool move down the colon more easily. These include mineral oil and Fleet.
Stool softeners: These moisten the stool. Stool softeners include Colace and Surfak.
Fiber supplements: These are perhaps the safest laxatives. They are also called bulk laxatives. They include FiberCon, Metamucil, Konsyl, Serutan, and Citrucel and should be taken with plenty of water.
Osmotics: These facilitate the movement of fluids through the colon. These include Cephulac, Sorbitol, and Miralax.
Saline laxatives: These draw water into the colon.
Chloride channel activators: These require a prescription and include lubiprostone (Amitiza).
5-HT-4 agonists: They increase the secretion of fluid in the intestines and speed up the rate at which food passes through the colon. They include Prucalopride.
If the constipation does not respond to any treatment, as a last resort, surgery to remove part of the colon may be undertaken. In the procedure, the segment of the anal sphincter or rectum that causes the constipation is removed.

Complications
Constipation on its own can be uncomfortable but not life-threatening. However, severe constipation can develop into more serious conditions, including:
1. rectal bleeding after continually straining to pass stools
2. anal fissure, or a small tear around the anus
3. hemorrhoids, or swollen, inflamed blood vessels of veins in the rectum
4. fecal impaction, in which dried stools collect in the anus and rectum, leading to an obstruction in the path stool would take to leave the body
5. Dealing with constipation before it becomes one of these conditions can prevent further discomfort.

Please note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional.
Content source –https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150322.php,  https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation, https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-constipation#1

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Dysphagia/ Difficulty in swallowing

Dysphagia means difficulty in swallowing. Dysphagia is a medical term used to describe swallowing disorder. Dysphagia is a symptom which is either alone as a single problem or it may be associated with heart burn, vomiting or pain.

Causes of dysphagia

Swallowing disorder/dysphagia can occur due to problems in oropharynx (Oropharyngeal dysphagia) or oesophagus (oesophageal dysphagia).

Oropharyngeal dysphagia – Swallowing disorder in which problem in initiation of swallowing at the level of pharynx and upper esophageal sphincter (opening of food pipe). Oropharyngeal dysphagia may be due to either functional or structural.
Functional means pharynx and esophagus are not functioning properly because of neuromuscular causes because the nerves controlling the muscles of the mouth, back of throat (pharynx) and opening of the esophagus (upper esophageal sphincter) have direct connections with the brain through cranial nerves, and can therefore be damaged in diseases involving the brain or cranial nerves. Neuromuscular disorder is the most common cause of oropharyngeal dysphagia.
Structural cause means narrowing of area or stricture formation, any swelling or lump/tumor obstructing from surrounding area.
Patients have difficulty in starting of swallowing and may complain of choking, nasal regurgitation or tracheal aspiration. Drooling, dysarthria, hoarseness and cranial nerve or other neurological signs may be present.

Esophageal dysphagia – Esophageal dysphagia may be due to either abnormality in esophageal normal peristalsis movement or structural disorder, narrowing of esophageus (food pipe) or obstruction in lumen. Narrowing of esophagus may be due to scarring due to acid reflux disease, inflammation of esophageal linings because of acid reflux, any obstruction in esophageal lumen either because of lump/tumor, or compression from surrounding area like any growth in chest or because of enlarged heart. Eosinophillic esophagitis is an inflammation in which inflammatory cells are all eosinophils.
Functional disorders of esophagus may be due to stiffening of esophageal muscles, weakness of esophageal muscles (Scleroderma), or disorder caused by nerve and muscle which affect relaxation of lower esophageal sphincter known as achalasia, esophageal spasm.
Patients with oesophageal disease complain of food ‘sticking’ after swallowing, although the level at which this is felt correlates poorly with the true site of obstruction. Swallowing of liquids is normal until strictures become extreme.
Achalasia, a condition where the esophagus fails to relax and allow food to pass, may be difficult to diagnose because symptoms progress slowly. In achalasia, difficulty may occur with both solids and liquids, and symptoms may be severe enough to cause weight loss. Patients with esophageal spasm can have chest pain as well.

Investigations

Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder which should be investigated urgently.

1. Signs, symptoms and medical history is very important to distinguish between esophageal or oropharyngeal dysphagia.
2. Endoscopy – Endoscopy (examination of the esophagus using a tube with a light and a video camera at the end) is the investigation of choice because This test not only allows the doctor to inspect the lumen and lining of the esophagus, but biopsy ( taking out samples of abnormal tissue for examination), can be done at same time and if appropriate, treatment can be performed by stretching out narrowed areas which is called as dilatation, so in short, it allows dilatation of strictures and biopsy.
3. Barium swallow with video fluoroscopic – If no abnormality found in endoscopy then Barium swallow with video fluoroscopic swallowing assessment is indicated to see whether there is any motility disorder.
In this procedure, patient swallows barium containing fluid and same time doctor observes the swallowing on X-ray screen to see swallowing functions of esophageal muscles and nerves.
4. Oesophageal high-resolution manometry – If a narrowing is not seen either on endoscopy or barium swallow, measurement of pressures within the oesophagus while swallowing sips of water (manometry) can help find out if the muscle of the oesophagus squeezes or relaxes abnormally while swallowing, and can diagnose conditions like achalasia or esophageal spasm.

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Treatment

Treatment of dysphagia depend upon the cause of dysphagia,
If dysphagia caused by acid reflux disorder, eosinophillic esophagitis or any infection in esophagus then it can be completely resolve with the medicines.
If stricture or narrowing is the cause for dysphagia then endoscopic dilatation is the treatment but sometimes it may need repetitive dilatation or frequent sitting.
If achalasia is the cause of dysphagia then it can be treated with either surgery or endoscopic forceful dilation of lower end of esophagus.
When dysphagia is due to either obstruction or cancer growth then stent or tube is used to keep the esophagus open.

 

Please note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional.

 

Content source –  Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine(22ndedition), http://patients.gi.org/topics/dysphagia/

How To Fight With Depression

In my previous blog I have discussed about the depression and its causes, here I will talk about treatment that can help a depressed person overcome depression. So if you have not read that then click here

Treatment-
The worst thing about depression is that it a real illness which can be very serious but best thing about this is that it is treatable. If your symptoms are severe enough then a make a doctor appointment and talk to doctor in detail. The choice of treatment depends on the pattern, severity, persistence of depressive symptoms and the history of the illness. As with many illnesses, early treatment is more effective and helps prevent the likelihood of serious recurrences. Depression must be treated by a physician or qualified mental health professional.

Few natural tips of treating Depression
1. If you feel you are sad and have the symptoms of depression, talk to the person you trust more, talk to your friend, or your loved one or who is in your close relation (like your parent, or your spouse, your best friend), Don’t be isolated, involve in social gathering, go for outing, meeting with your friends this will help you reminding past and nice memories.
2. Being optimistic- you know what is the cause or may not, but you have to be very positive towards your life, your job and in everything you are involved. Boost your mind by thinking positive only. Make your will power very strong.
3. Go near to the nature- Nature is such a precious gift in our life, nature will make you feel better in all ways it rejuvenate you to feel emotionally and physically. IT will boost your inner strength. Naturo-therapy is the best treatment for depression.
4. Yoga and Meditation– Yoga has uncountable benefits, it not only builds your inner strength and awareness but provides many mental and physical benefits. It focuses your attention on your body’s abilities at the present moment. Yoga is known for its ability to soothe tension and anxiety in the mind and body. But it can also have an impact on a person’s exercise capacity. So if you want to get rid from depression and anxiety you must practice Yoga every day. Everyday 30 minutes yoga is good for you.
5. Daily routine- You should fix your goal. Every day in the morning make “to do list” and try to do all those things within your time limit with full enthusiasm. You have to fix your daily routine from time you wake up to time you go bed, good sleep is important so try to sleep early and wake up early but never too late. Fix your meal time.
6. Hygiene- You should follow hygienic habits. Keep your room nice and clean, Open the windows in your room for fresh air and natural sunlight which helps to fight depressive mood. You can use some Quotations on your wall which boost up your mind. Clean your bed every day and change your bedsheet frequently, do not use dark and dull color bedsheets, use light and colorful bedsheets.
7. Eat healthy- Always eat healthy food rich in protein, fibers like green leafy vegetables and fruits. Drink plenty of water, 2-3 liters water every day to flush out the toxins. Eat healthy, think healthy and stay healthy.
8. Dance and Music- turn on any soothing light music while at home, dance on music can help you to feel better physically and emotionally.
9. Avoid caffeine after 4 pm, if you have difficulty in sleeping.
10. Never take alcohol.

Medical treatment-
If symptoms are severe then doctor may prescribe you antidepressants which are of different types and some medications may take few weeks or longer to take full effect.
Different kinds of antidepressants-
SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), SNRIs (Serotonin Nor-epinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), NDRIs (Nor-epinephrine Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors), MAO (Mono Amine Oxidase) inhibitors, Atypical antidepressants, Tricyclic antidepressants.
All these medication have some side effects and MAO inhibitors also have some food restrictions (cheese containing food, wine) because of drug interactions. So always discuss about side effects of the drugs with your doctor or pharmacist.

Doctor may choose to treat you with either combinations of two antidepressants, or one antidepressant and one mood stabilizer or antidepressants with antipsychotic drugs.

Guidelines for antidepressants-
1. All antidepressants have side effects so always discuss about the drug and its side effects with your doctor.
2. Keep patience, because sometimes drugs may take week or longer to show full effect.
3. Some foods are restricted in MAO inhibitors like cheese and wine, so never take this if you are taking the drugs.
4. If you want to take any other medicine please ask your doctor first.
5. If you become pregnant or planning to get pregnant or you are breastfeeding inform your doctor, because some antidepressants may pose risk to your unborn child or nursing baby.
6. Be careful while driving or using machinery, especially if your medicine makes you sleepy.
7. Never stop antidepressants without doctor’s advice, sudden stopping of drugs may cause sudden worsening of symptoms or withdrawal like symptoms. They should be stopped gradually and according to your doctor’s instructions.
8. If you develop any new symptom please inform your doctor.
9. During treatment or before treatment anytime if you have any thought of hurting yourself or suicidal thought, inform the doctor immediately.

Please note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional.

 

Depression

What is depression?
Depression is a simple word but it has deep and vast meaning, In my words Depression is a feeling generated by your state of mind, it is a sad feeling, or feeling low, not feeling good, not feeling energetic are usually used to express depression and person say I am depressed. Depression is very common problem nowadays. It is a real medical illness which comes in many forms and really needs attention.
Though it is a feeling in your mind state but it may be a real illness or disease. So you have to know what depression is. Life is full of ups and down and sometimes person may not accept all aspects of life and can feels sad or goes in to depression, which not only affect the person who is depressed but also his surroundings or family members who are very close to the person.
Usually people think, feeling sad or feeling dull is depression, but it is more than that, there are few signs and symptoms which can help you to diagnose depression.
1. Persistent sad feeling or anxious, loneliness, emptiness.
2. Loss of interest in daily activity and hobbies. Person may lose the interest in daily activities and he or she may lose the interest in his or her favorite activity or hobby also. He may lose interest in sex too.
3. Sleep disturbance – problem in falling asleep or problem in waking up or disturbed sleep.(Either sleeping too much or less)
4. Fatigue, low energy – person will always feel tired (fatigue), or dull. No motivation to work. Ability to think and speak are slowed down which may affect body movements too.
5. Guilt or feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness.
6. Poor concentration – person cannot concentrate on work, affects ability to take decisions, impacts memory, person finds hard to remember or recall things.
7. Suicidal thought or harming himself by any mean
8. Change in appetite- Though decrease in appetite is common but in some people there may be increase in appetite. So weight loss and weight gain both can be seen.
9. Other psychological disturbances like irritation, agitation, mood changes may be seen.
10. Unexplained body aches may also be seen like headache, pain in abdomen or in any body part.
For diagnosis at least five of these symptoms should be present during most of days, almost every day for at least two weeks and severely interrupting daily activities. If you have these symptoms then make a doctor appointment and talk to doctor in detail.

It is not necessary that all these signs will be present in a depressed person but only few of them may also present so counselling and asking questions related to all these symptoms are very important for diagnosing the problem. And if you are asking questions you have to take the patient under your confidence and make sure that information provided by the patient will not go outside. The most important question asking about suicidal thoughts or any thought to harm him-self or her-self.

Causes-
There may be different causes of depression from genetic, biochemical, environmental to any life event. Depression can occur in any age but more often starts by the age 16. In teenagers stress may be related to school life, studies or friends, any trauma, love relations, loss of loved one or any other. In adults causes may be related to family life, stressful situation between partners, work load in the office, competition everywhere, infidelity, not getting success at work, unsatisfactory jobs, any trauma or loss of loved one and much more. Sometimes depression is medication induced, related to medical problems and long term illness. In women depression may be due to hormonal changes during menstrual cycle, before menstruation known as pre menstruation syndrome (PMS). After delivery of baby depression is called as postpartum blues which is more common in women due to hormonal and physiological changes in body and adding another responsibility in her life of taking care of baby.

Depending on symptoms, duration and cause depression may be of different varieties-
Major Depression- Symptoms are severe enough to interrupt daily activities, and presents at least two weeks with noticeable change in previous level of functioning.
Bipolar I Disorder-Mood disorder in which patient experiences manic symptoms (elated mood) for at least one week that cause significant distress or impairment in his/her level of functioning.
Dysthymic Disorder-It is a chronic disorder characterized by depressed mood that presents most of the time during the day and present on most days for at least two years.
Cyclothymic Disorder- A chronic disorder characterized by many episodes of depressed mood and in between many episodes of hypomanic mood (Mild elated mood) for at least two years.
Seasonal Affective Disorder-It is characterized by depressive symptoms usually in winter months and in snowy places,when there is absence of sunlight, people can not go outside, all the activities are limited inside the closed home.
Post traumatic depression- After any trauma or because of loss of loved one .It is different from Grief in which usually return of normal baseline functioning within two months but in depression patient do not returns to his baseline level functioning.
Postpartum Depression- Symptoms starts within one month after giving birth to baby and may continue for long time.

Diagnosis-
Usually symptoms and physical exam can diagnose the Depression ,no lab tests are necessary but sometimes to rule out medical causes doctor may order for lab tests.