The Symptoms of Constipation Of The Bowels

Inactive condition of the liver; movement of the bowels Infrequent or wholly suspended without artificial aid; inactive condition of liver and kidneys, indicated by scanty urine and pale color of feces; skin dry and sallow; breath foul; mind depressed; headache; neuralgia; palpitation of the heart.

Constipation of the bowels is one of the most frequent disorders of the digestive organs. The principal causes of the disease are sedentary habits, concentrated diet, and the use of tea, coffee, tobacco, and beer. Some of the most obstinate cases of constipation are produced by the long-continued use of opiates. It is also frequently the result of other disorders of these organs, as chronic intestinal catarrh, stricture of the intestines, partial paralysis or inactivity of the muscular walls of the intestines, etc. Another cause which is worthy of mention is neglect to evacuate the bowels when the desire is felt. The contents of the bowels are gradually carried down to the rectum, and when they reach this point there is generally a desire to relieve the bowels. If the duty is at once attended to, the habit of evacuating at a regular hour soon becomes fixed. If the call of nature is unheeded, however, the feces are carried upward by peristaltic action into the colon again, so that the desire passes away. By long neglect, the bowels may get into such an abnormal condition that the desire to relieve them will never be felt. The bowels act very differently in different persons. In the majority of cases the bowels move about once each day. Others require two movements a day. In still others the interval is prolonged to two or three days. In occasional instances the bowel movements occur but once a week, notwithstanding the person enjoys perfect health. It is sometimes astonishing to see how long the contents of the bowels may be retained. While a student in Bellevue Hospital, New York, wo learned of the case of a man who had no movement of the bowels for three months. Ho was then obliged to devote himself to the duty of emptying the bowels for three or four weeks, and lost in that time forty pounds which he had accumulated. Last, but not least, among the causes of constipation should be mentioned the habitual use of laxatives or cathartics in the shape of "dinner pills," "purgative pills," etc.

The results of constipation of the bowels are often very serious. The accumulation of fecal matter in the bowels obstructs the portal circulation and induces disorder of nearly all the abdominal organs. The liver and kidneys become inactive through mechanical obstruction, the stomach becomes affected; and the pancreas and spleen participate in the general disorder, having their functions very greatly impaired. The circulation in the lower limbs is also interfered with by pressure on the large veins which return the blood from the lower part of the body, occasioning numbness and coldness of the feet and legs, which is an almost constant accompaniment of this disease. Absorption of the decomposing fecal matter also takes place to some extent, giving rise to foulness of breath; and the poisoning of the nerve centers occasions great mental depression, headache, confusion of thought, neuralgia, and a great variety of symptoms. One of the most common and painful results of chronic constipation is hemorrhoids, or piles. They arise from obstruction of the circulation due to fecal matter in the bowels. As these generally require the use of surgical measures for relief, we notice them but briefly here.