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Dehydration and constipation

Constipation and dehydration

Body dehydration

In order to adjust to environmental changes, the body is capable of losing or retaining water. As a result, it keeps its internal temperature within normal limits. But there are certain disease conditions or even lifestyle factors that promote water loss or decreased water intake. Among the normal mechanisms wherein the body decreases its temperature is losing water through sweating, as in the case of strenuous exercise.

Dehydration is the condition wherein the body does not have an adequate amount of water in order to proceed with its daily activities. This may be induced by excessive water loss through diarrhea and vomiting, less water intake, or other circumstances such as burns, trauma, or electrolyte imbalance. In cases when the body does not have enough water, fluids from the bloodstream and other tissues are consequently absorbed in order to compensate for the fluid loss. If the individual does not immediately take in water in compensation for these losses, the body starts to go to a plunge and eventually collapses.

Dehydration does not choose age or sex, but it is more dangerous for those at the extreme age groups, such as infants and children, as well as the elderly. That is why one of the major things to prioritize when a patient comes into an emergency room is to make sure he or she is properly hydrated. Most often, fluids are being channeled into the body directly into the bloodstream (or via the intravenous route), to ensure that a great concentration of ions are immediately made available for bodily function.

A dehydrated person is not just an unpleasant sight; it is also an unavoidable sight! Among the signs of dehydration are dry and sticky mucous membranes (usually demonstrated by dry and sticky mouths), low or absence of urine output (in some cases, urine is highly concentrated resulting to a darker color), negative production of tears especially in children, sunken eyeballs which can be prominent in both adults and children, noticeably sunken fontanelles especially in the infants, and in severe cases, a dehydrated individual can slip into lethargy or comatose.

If in case you did not know yet, our stools are largely composed of water. Yes, in fact 75% of the feces is composed of water, while only 25% is attributed to solids. These solids are composed of cellulose or other indigestible fibers, bacteria, inorganic material such as calcium and phosphates, fat and its derivatives, as well as desquamated mucosal cells, mucus, and small amounts of digestive enzymes. The colon is highly capable of absorbing fluid - it is where the final phase of reabsorption takes place. Normally, sodium ions are being actively transported inward from the colon, and since water follows sodium, then water is also reabsorbed. This is why the colon is a practical route for pharmacologic interventions in the form of suppositories, anesthetics, sedatives, and the like.

When the body is depleted of water, the colon's capacity for water reabsorption is enhanced. Normally, the colon removes about 90% of the fluid, converting approximately one to two liters of chyme that enters it into a semisolid fecal matter. However, this is increased further when dehydration ensues. As a result, the chyme temporarily stored in the colon loses a great deal of water, and therefore the stools lose a great amount of bulk. This results to slower passage of stools down the colon, and therefore constipation.

A normal transit in the colon is very important in order to prevent excess bacterial growth in the colon. Anything that would impede its transit and therefore cause constipation would subject an individual to the deleterious effects of constipation – among of which is the possible reabsorption of carcinogens that are already excreted by the body and ready for dispatch by the anus. Thus, adequate water intake is very necessary to maintain the body's colonic transit. A daily dose of eight to twelve glasses of fluids would be enough to ensure a healthy and balanced metabolic function!

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