Observations and suggestions to my fellow chronically constipated friends:
Hello everyone. I have been an active member here for a few years now and just wanted to pass along some pertinent information that I've learned about chronic constipation (or CC for short). I will be going over everything from the “just eat more fiber” theory to surgical procedures, and covering everything in-between that comes to mind. Keep in mind I'm gonna be honest here, and not sugarcoat stuff.
For those who are new here: Most doctors will suggest to eat more fiber to help with your constipation. I grudgingly agree that this should be tried first and foremost, and if it works consider yourselves off the hook. Honestly? You people are really lucky. But if that doesn't work? This is very common with the CC crowd. If that is the case try no extra fiber at all. I'd say about 80 to 90% of us here find more fiber, both soluble and insoluble, just makes us more constipated. Extra fiber is out of the question for me. I took a doctor-recommended fiber supplement for awhile and it was like trying to pass tree branches, in slow motion. Screw that. So again, if after a few days extra fiber doesn't work, try NO EXTRA FIBER at all. Zilch. Easy enough?
You can also try drinking more water, but for me? Drinking more water did nothing for my constipation and just made me pee more. Not good when you're at work all day. In theory lots of water should probably help, but for a lot of us it doesn't do squat (no pun intended).
If you have been chronically constipated for some time now I think it's important to get a colonoscopy, to check for things like blockage, diverticulitis, certain types of cancer(s), whatnot. If you get put to sleep for the procedure your colonoscopy should be a breeze. Did you hear what I just said? I said if you get put to sleep for the procedure your colonoscopy should be a breeze. I'm not exaggerating. Always ask BEFORE making an appointment if they put you to sleep or just put you on twilight drugs. If they use just twilight drugs? Call someone else, as it's much better to be out for the procedure. It should be easy that way, believe it or not.
Now to the actual bowel moving process: I think it's a very good idea to wait until the very last minute (if not second!) to go. Sitting on the toilet and trying to go is not a good idea at all. Good way to get hemorrhoids, or to make them even worse. I also think waiting until you can't wait any longer to go is a good idea because one gets better evacuation that way.
Very important: If you're currently not taking a supplement every day to help you go to the bathroom, you really, really should. Sad to say but chronic constipation rarely goes away on its own. DON'T BE STUPID, find something that works and take it every day. I tried to tough it out for a long time – probably a year or two - and got horrible hemorrhoids (grade 4, the worst you can get) from trying to go, as nothing much would move inside me. I've had two hemorrhoidectomies because of this....
….and believe me, they ain't fun. (Yes, painful.) So once again I STRONGLY suggest you find something that works and take it regularly - that means EVERY DAY. Don't skip days. I've tried just about everything.....
…..and normally take & recommend Dr. Schulze's Intestinal Formula # 1 (I take 2 or 3 regular strength pills and 1 maximum strength daily). And no, I'm not paid to plug it. I'm coming up on two years of using it now. It's all herbal and the formula is made by a real doctor.
Miralax is also popular for CC. For me? It works okay - I'd grade it about a 'C.' I prefer I.F. # 1. It just works better.
Of note: I think some of the people who get rectal prolapse also get it for the same reason I got bad hemorrhoids, so.... take something every day. I cannot stress this enough. DON'T BE STUPID.
Now you might be thinking, “'Fluffy,' don't you worry that by taking laxatives every day your intestines won't work right after awhile, or you'll get addicted to the laxatives?” ...Something of that nature. Honestly? NO. My intestines already don't work right and barring a miracle, probably never will again. It's the ugly truth. I told you I'm not going to sugar coat this. I don't mean to be a bummer but I've read very, very few success stories about CC. Usually? With the “I'm cured!” stories? They are still taking a supplement, something to help them go. If you still are taking a supplement and say that you're cured, you're really not cured. What you are is successfully treating your condition. Big difference. Cured means you eat & drink what you want. You're not constipated anymore. You have at least one regular BM per day. You don't take ANY supplements, pharmaceuticals, special drinks/whatnot at all to help you go. You poop like a normal person. You had IBS-C for a long time and now, for whatever reason, it's gone. That's cured. Capisce?
The sad truth is if more fiber and extra water don't cure your chronic constipation, then I am of the belief that actually being cured of CC is very much a rarity. Sorry folks, but it's the truth. Hopefully one day this will change.
Probiotics: You can try probiotics, but after trying a few different kinds I have found they just make me more constipated. I do NOT recommend them for IBS-C. You can sometimes find a few posters here who are CC and find probiotics beneficial, but for most of us? Probiotics = more constipation. Personally? I say screw probiotics. I think they're more for the IBS-D crowd, IMHO. Trouble is, probiotics sound like you should be taking them, don't they? But I say don't waste your money. Try Intestinal Formula # 1 instead.
Do not be surprised if you get really tired after your BM's, and thirsty as all hell. And cold. I always do. “Turn up the heat!!!” Chronic fatigue is a very common side-effect of CC (as is depression). I usually chew nicotine gum and take half a Sudafed a day for energy. I'd take ephedrine if I could, but it's banned here in the good ol' U.S. of A. Go figure. Ban something that is natural and push the pharmaceuticals on us. It's all big business. There isn't exactly any ephedrine lobbyists out there now, is there? Homey don't think so!
I think IBS is most often inherited. My mother has it and my younger sister has IBS-D. My mother's sister has it, her daughter has it (IBS-C) and so do both of my nieces (IBS-D). I was good until I hit about age 45, went on a health food kick and ate mostly a raw plant-based diet for about 3 months. I have never been the same since then. I remember telling my supervisor at work, “This health food is killing me!” It did. It tore my ass up. It ruined (messed up) my intestines, probably for good. 'Till death do us part?' (And yes, I eat regular foods now, but still have CC.)
I have read many stories here of people who do not want to use the restroom at work for their bowel movements. I used to be like this too, so much so I was giving myself enemas every morning before work to try to get as much ick out as possible. I almost always have incomplete evacuation (which is normal for those of us who are CC) and would have to go again sometimes at work. You know what? Get over it. GO AT WORK. Bring in something to read every time you go like a cell phone or magazine to get your mind off of it. Blast music into your ears if it helps you relax while you're going at work. Giving yourself enemas or trying to force yourself to go at home before work so you don't have to go while you're at work gets crazy. It's not good. (Much possible anxiety.) You should also sit down and have a brief but serious discussion with your employer and tell them you have IBS and will need to use the bathroom more often than most. I've brought a note in from my doctor at every place I've worked at since I've had CC.
Exercise: I regularly lift weights, have been for years. Exercise may help a tiny bit with CC, but for the most part it just helps one look & feel better. I definitely recommend exercising several times a week. Again, it probably won't help much with your constipation but it definitely helps elevate one's mood.
Is a cure really out there? I still think the best chance for an actual cure for CC is a fecal transplant, or FMT for short. The success rate is unknown and not high, but that's pretty much all we've got, folks. I've tried two myself, but both failed. I also did them incorrectly. You are supposed to either clear out your system completely (like before you go in for a colonoscopy), or take two or three antibiotics for quite awhile (up to a year) to kill your gut flora/bacteria/whatever's in there that there's too much of. I didn't know about that back then. Would I do it again, by myself? No. It's just too gross and hard to hold the fecal matter in for me. Also most FMT's, done properly, are done in a series; that being several times over a period of weeks/months. I would love to get the procedure(s) done in a clinical setting, like in a hospital, but our good ol' FDA banned them here in the U.S. for everything except C-diff. There isn't exactly any poop lobbyists out there now, is there? Homey don't think so! They'd rather have you on Linzess or Amitiza (which don't normally get too many positive reviews here - don't be surprised if you don't like them). Sad thing for me is the world famous Cleveland Clinic actually does FMT's for people with C-diff, but that's it, and their main hospital is about 13 miles away from me. A possible cure, right there, down the street from me.... but the FDA says no. (I wish I could cuss here.)
I also think IBS-C is harder to cure than IBS-D with fecal transplants. I was following a CC teenager's thread here with much enthusiasm, as he was giving himself FMT's. Then I heard a few months back he committed suicide. I didn't know him personally but obviously they didn't work. It bummed me out, but I don't blame him at all for ending his life. CC sucks. It makes your body out of whack. Is a cure really out there? I don't know anymore. So for now? I treat my condition the best way I can, with Intestinal Formula # 1.
I often wonder if someone with CC got a series of FMT's from someone who currently has IBS-D, would that have a better cure rate then just using someone fecal matter who has normal bowel movements? Yes, I'm saying use their diarrhea to even things out inside us. Just a theory, but perhaps it just might work?
I probably should add that I have never been formerly diagnosed with IBS-C, but I believe the root cause of my problem (and many others of us here) is an imbalance in our gut flora. Either an overgrowth or undergrowth of one of the many bacterium inside us. You'd think our brains would just say, “Hey... Wait a minute.... somethings not working right in there” and adjust itself/send signals down to our intestines so they'd fix themselves and run smoothly again, but sadly? No. This is just not the case. CC sometimes seems like a generational curse to me. But in reality, for me, it is simply a case of bad genetics/hereditary, and the result of eating so-called health food. Go figure.
I have read a few stories here of people who have MAJOR problems with their intestines and/or anal area. Supplements may work for the short-term, but after awhile? Nothing works. Some people get rectal prolapse, get surgery, then get rectal prolapse again. Some people are told they have twisted or narrow intestines.... Stuff like that. If it gets THAT bad, and for some it does, when nothing much wants to come out anymore no matter what, then one must consider surgical options. I know most of us don't like to think about getting a stoma/colostomy, but when you've tried everything, nothing seems to work anymore, you can barely function and your doctor says that is your best option, then you gotta do what you gotta do. There are also other surgical options that I'm not too familiar with, so that's all I'll say about that.
One last thing: Reproduction. Personally? My CC is bad enough that I will definitely think twice about ever getting someone pregnant. Unless Jesus comes down and personally commands me to reproduce with someone? I probably won't. Without daily supplements? I'm 110% screwed, probably till the day I die. This is just too bad a problem and I don't want to risk someone inheriting this. Obviously having CC and having a child doesn't guarantee that your kid will end up with the condition, but it's quite possible. I like to say almost everything – good and bad – is genetics/inherited. Remember, you could always adopt... Or buy a dog... or both.
Note: If a person who has IBS-C makes a baby with someone who has IBS-D, would they cancel each other out and have a child with normal, 'smooth running' intestines? (Hmmmmmm, I wonder!)
That's it folks, thanks for your time. Sorry I didn't have the answer to rid us of this problem once and for all. If you have any questions/comments you can post 'em here, on someone else's thread or you can always start your own thread if you want to. Don't be shy.
“We are all searching for that magic pill.” - Nuffa
Good luck to all!
Your constantly constipated cyber pal,
P.S. My auto-correct recommended I use “cyber-sex” pal instead of cyber pal. Wouldn't that have changed my goodbye!?! lol