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A Glimpse Into Hypothyroidism And Constipation Relationship

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The case of hypothyroidism and constipation occurring at the same time can be very problematic for a patient suffering from both. Hypothyroidism is a medical condition wherein the thyroid gland becomes underactive leading to reduced levels of thyroid hormones known as thyroxine.

It usually affects the normal metabolic functions of the body, which often leads to tiredness, weight gain, constipation, body aches, and dry skin among others.

On the other hand, constipation is defined as a condition wherein a person has difficulty emptying the bowels. The condition is normally associated with hard and dry bowel movements that are difficult, and sometimes painful, to pass.

To better understand constipation, it is best to know how digestion works. As soon as the food is ingested and moves into the large intestine (colon), water will be absorbed from it, initiating the formation of stool.

Muscles in the intestines continue to contract to aid the movement of the stool until it reaches the rectum. Throughout the process, water will continuously be absorbed from the food until it becomes solid enough for elimination.

Researchers Olga Yaylali, and Suna Kirac, along with others, discovered in their study how the motility of the stomach and the thyroid levels are related. Hypothyroidism and constipation simultaneously happen because the thyroid hormones help in the management of the bodily processes including digestion.

The occurrence of both conditions at the same time can be expected because hypothyroidism weakens the contractions of the muscles in the digestive system. As a result, the stool moves through the system slower than usual leading to constipation.

The researchers concluded that hypothyroidism could result in a significant reduction in the body’s ability to empty the stomach. The study also determined that hypothyroidism has no significant relationship with the acid secretions of the stomach.

Meanwhile, Doctors William E. Bennett, Jr. and Robert O. Heuckeroth researched the prevalence of hypothyroidism and constipation among children. They viewed the records of patients who underwent thyroid hormones tests within a 5-year period.

Out of the 56 patients who had abnormal thyroid hormones results, the doctors diagnosed nine patients having hypothyroidism. Moreover, seven out of the nine patients had both hypothyroidism and constipation. From there, the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) recommended that doctors should order thyroid hormone tests if the case of constipation is severe.

Hypothyroidism and constipation can be unrelated, so the doctors advised their patients to undergo blood tests first to diagnose the presence or absence of hypothyroidism. A blood test is the most common procedure done where the level of thyroid hormones can be determined.

A low level of the thyroid hormones often confirms the presence of hypothyroidism.

In treating hypothyroidism and constipation, the following are some tips that may help in the relief of the condition.

  1. Treating Hypothyroidism

If the constipation is due to hypothyroidism, it is best to address the underlying hypothyroidism case first. Seek help from your physician on what therapy to take and how long you intend to do it.

  1. Drinking More Water

In treating constipation, drinking water regularly will ease the burden of passing hard stools. Make it a habit of drinking six to eight glasses of water per day.

  1. Exercising Regularly

Health experts recommend that exercise should be done for at least 150 minutes a day. According to the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology published in February 2017, physical activities and regular exercise can help relieve constipation.

  1. Eating a High Fiber Meal

Eating fiber-rich food, such as fruits with skin on, vegetables, berries, beans, and whole grains, can help in the relief of constipation. You can seek help from a dietitian to develop a meal plan that is rich in fiber. According to the United States of Agriculture, the national recommendation for the daily intake of fiber is at least 28 grams for women and 30 grams for men.

If after making lifestyle changes and going through therapy and constipation continues, it is best to seek help from a gastroenterologist; there is a chance that constipation may be a result of other medical causes.

In some cases, constipation may be due to taking supplements that contain iron, overusing laxatives, overeating meat and cheese, and ignoring the urge to have bowel movement among others.

Complications due to chronic constipation may include hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, or fecal impaction. When things get out of hand, seeking help from a physician is the best thing to do. Your doctor will have a comprehensive evaluation of your condition, which may include a thyroid hormone test.

Getting your medical history will be critical at this point because it will be the basis for the diagnosis and the treatment procedure to follow.

Keep in mind that constipation may be a symptom of having low levels of thyroid hormones. If you found out that you have hypothyroidism and constipation at the same time, it’s crucial to get treated by a doctor right away.

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