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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

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Suggest treatment for constipation

Answered by
Dr. Vasudha Jayant Athavale

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1970

Answered : 6417 Questions

Posted on Wed, 27 Aug 2014 in Digestion and Bowels
Question: I recently quit smoking, and my schedule changed from days to evenings. I was having an issue with constipation so I used some milk of magnesia, which worked but violently so. Ever since then, the constipation has returned and when I attempt to bear down I feel like something is moving in my rectum so I don't want to push any harder. I have had to use suppositories to evacuate for a week now, but have also been taking miralax for 4 days hoping that would help. The stools I have been able to pass are quite narrow.
I am 41 and had a hysterectomy 4 years ago, so have experienced some digestive issues, but never anything like this. Should I be concerned, or just keep using the miralax hoping it will work itself out?
Answered by Dr. Vasudha Jayant Athavale 5 hours later
Brief Answer:
Patient efforts & changed life style will help.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for the query.
Bowel complaints like nausea, gas, constipation are known signs of tobaco withdrawal.Tobaco contains Nicotin, which is a stimulant.After withdrawal of smoking,body needs some time to adjust to be active without stimulant.
Please don't worry. The constipation ( as a withdrawal symptom) will be relieved as body gets adjusted to work without Nicotin- is usually resolves within few weeks time.
till then what is needed is to know the changes brought about by withdrawal, & make positive efforts to overcome them.
& they are,
* - Tobacco withdrawal usually leads to change in eating habits-To overcome desire to smoke, the person starts over eating. This in turn causes-
- lac of balanced food,
- over strain to bowels - resulting in constipation.
To overcome this , try to have -
- try to overcome eating spells
- Have Well balanced food along with sufficient fibers & sufficient water.
* Withdrawal of smoking leads to changes in physical/ psychological activities
- The person becomes more stressful,anxious, irritable & lazy due to lac of stimulant.Physical activity is reduced, which again helps constipation.
To overcome this-
- Make positive efforts & Stick to normal routine
- start doing physical exercises ( walking, yoga exercises) 30 to 45 minutes /day
- Develop a regular bowel habit,
- Be positive, determined to stick with the withdrawal of smoking.( Psychological counsellings, relaxation techniques help)
* Please understand dietary changes /physical exercises are not going to have instant results so
- persistent efforts &
- Use of mild laxatives like Lactulose suspension or Ispaghula in the beginning is indicated.
- Use of anal suppositories are good to avoid stressful bowel movements till the final control is achieved by changed life style/complete smoking withdrawal.
* Please consult a Gastroenterologist to rule out persistant digestive problems you had in past.

** I am sure, the due time given for body to adjust with tobaco withdrawal & your own efforts to overcome constipation will help you in successful withdrawal of smoking ,leading to a healthier & happier life!
I hope the answer is informative & helpful to you. Any further query is welcome.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Bhagyalaxmi Nalaparaju

The User accepted the expert's answer

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