Constipation in the elderly

Constipation has recently been a fairly common problem. Especially often, such a pathology occurs in women due to hormonal disruptions, a sedentary lifestyle, and malnutrition. In addition, older people are subject to constipation. According to statistics, after 60 years, every second person suffers from difficulty in defecation. At the same time, many do not go to the doctor, coping with the problem on their own. But taking laxatives without eliminating the cause of constipation only leads to a worsening of the condition. Therefore, it is very important at the initial stage to consult a doctor for an examination.

How do they manifest

Constipation in older people is most often chronic. This is due to a slowdown in metabolic processes and intestinal motility with age. Often the patient does not immediately realize that he has a problem with bowel movement, only when constipation causes pain, he begins to take a laxative. But this approach leads to even worse deterioration, since under the influence of such drugs the intestines cease to work independently.

Therefore, it is desirable to detect the problem at an early stage. Pay attention not only to the frequency of the stool. In old age, bowel movements may be 3-4 times a week, but if such a frequency of stool does not cause a person problems and does not cause pain, this is normal. If a rare bowel movement is accompanied by heaviness, abdominal pain, bloating and nausea, measures must be taken.

The fact that an old person has chronic constipation can be judged by how the bowel movement occurs. If it is accompanied by straining, pain or requires additional manual intervention, the problem should be solved as soon as possible.

Constipation may also be indicated by a change in the stool consistency. It becomes dry, leaves in small lumps. In addition, with constipation after defecation, there is a feeling of incomplete bowel movement, nausea, belching may occur. Sometimes false desires appear.

Constipation can be acute, arising after the use of certain foods or drugs, or chronic. Acute constipation is accompanied by abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating. It can occur with inflammatory diseases, bowel obstruction, diverticulosis, or the formation of tumors.

But in old age, chronic constipation most often develops. This is due to the natural processes of aging, when the tone of the smooth muscles of the intestine decreases. Especially often, people with diabetes, atherosclerosis, obesity, and inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract are susceptible to this.

Prolonged constipation leads to unpleasant consequences, greatly worsening the health of an elderly person. The accumulation of feces in the intestine causes intoxication of the body, as toxins are absorbed through its walls, which must be brought out. This leads to decreased performance, headaches, nausea.

In addition, the constant presence of feces can cause the formation of diverticula in the walls of the intestine. Food accumulates in these pockets, causing inflammation. This condition can cause a cancerous tumor.

Other unpleasant consequences of chronic constipation are damage to the rectal mucosa. Most often, these are cracks in the anus that arise due to damage by solid feces. In addition to severe pain during bowel movements, such a problem can lead to inflammation, infection and the development of an abscess. In addition, constant straining causes the appearance of hemorrhoids. Sometimes rectal prolapse may also develop. In many people, constipation is accompanied by psychological problems, insomnia, depression.


There are various reasons for constipation in older people, because with age, the work of all organs worsens, a person moves less. But most often, constipation is caused by intestinal atony. This condition is characterized by a decrease in muscle tone of the walls of the colon. Along with this, signal transmission to the brain about the need for bowel movement is deteriorating.

Intestinal atony develops in many women and men with age, but not all. Predisposing factors for this can be dysbiosis, inflammatory diseases of the digestive system, circulatory disorders in the abdominal cavity, frequent infectious diseases and helminth infections. Most often, people experience difficulty with bowel movements after a stroke or operations on the digestive tract, having a thyroid dysfunction, eating little fiber.

Since intestinal motility is directly related to human activity, constipation is often found in bedridden patients. Elderly people do not move much, so their intestines also work worse. In addition, a malfunction of the chewing function can become the cause of constipation in an elderly person, since poorly shredded food enters the digestive tract and digestion slows down.

Many medications that most older people are forced to take can also cause constipation. This can be a means to lower blood pressure, diuretics, iron or painkillers, antidepressants. Or sorbents, drugs to reduce the acidity of gastric juice. They are often taken without a doctor’s prescription.

Bowel spasm can also cause constipation. It can occur due to an inflammatory process, severe stress, parasitic disease, allergies, or malnutrition. An elderly person often cannot eat vegetables and fruits. And if you eat mainly meat, eggs and bread, constipation is provided.


It is impossible to unequivocally answer how to deal with constipation in the elderly, since each person is individual. Therefore, there is no specific medicine that will help establish stool. First of all, it is necessary to eliminate the cause of constipation, so it is important to consult a doctor and undergo an examination. Only then will treatment tactics be chosen.

It must be comprehensive. In addition to the appointment of special drugs to facilitate the process of defecation and eliminate the causes of constipation, it is necessary to change the lifestyle and nutrition of an elderly person. If the patient fights constipation with the help of drugs, but does not move much and does not eat plant fiber, his condition will only worsen.

Therefore, for the treatment of constipation, drugs are used in the form of tablets, syrup or rectal suppositories, a special diet, therapeutic exercises. In addition, you can additionally affect the work of the intestines with folk remedies, massage or physiotherapy.

First aid

In chronic constipation, an elderly person can feel quite well. But acute constipation can lead not only to serious discomfort, but also to complications. Therefore, it is important to know what to do to help an older person. It is usually recommended in this case to give the patient an enema. The water in it should be cool, warm immediately absorbed into the blood, and too cold can cause heart failure. Enema may contain supplements, but clean water is best. You can also use laxatives or pills, if there are no contraindications.

Help with constipation also consists in creating a positive atmosphere in the house, ensuring peace for the sick person, proper nutrition and drinking regimen. It is necessary to ensure that he drinks at least 2 liters of water. From food, you need to exclude rice, legumes, bread, eggs, whole milk, strong tea. It would be nice to do massage or self-massage of the abdomen as often as possible, holding it with your hand in circular motions without pressure.

local_offerevent_note March 21, 2020

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