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Source: Papers On Health
This trouble is often only aggravated and made chronic
by the use of purgatives. Some simple change of diet, such as a ripe
uncooked apple, eaten before breakfast, or a fruit diet for a day or
two may put all right. So also with the use of wheaten meal porridge or
bread. When this can be taken with pure CANE SYRUP (see), the two
together will make such a change in the food as will frequently banish
all inaction of the bowels. Rest must be reckoned on, especially if the
patient has been using purgatives freely. Do not act as if castor oil
were a necessary article of diet. When the constipation is more
obstinate, in the case of a child, good golden syrup may be given, a
teaspoonful after each meal. A quarter of a pound of the best Spanish
liquorice, costing sixpence, should be boiled in a pint of water down
to three-quarters of a pint and strained. A dessertspoonful of this
after each meal may be given instead of the treacle. It is the best
tonic we know, and infinitely better than quinine and other costlier
drugs. If a stronger mixture be desired, put half-an-ounce of senna
leaf in the juice while being boiled. This may be increased to a whole
ounce of senna if still stronger effect be desired.
Some are more liable than others to attacks of constipation, but
chronic constipation may generally be put down to errors in diet, or
want of sufficient exercise. Indigestible foods, such as pastry and
heavy puddings, as well as foods which leave little residue in the
intestine, such as white bread, puddings, arrowroot, are highly
constipating. Tea has also a similar effect, also large quantities of
meat. Constipation is seldom found in vegetarians, since vegetables and
fruits act as a stimulus to the intestine. Brown bread and oatmeal
porridge have also an aperient effect. If it is suspected that milk has
been a cause of constipation in any particular case, it may be boiled
and used with coffee instead of tea.
Much may be done by judicious exercise to relieve chronic constipation,
and help the liver to work (see Appendix; Physical Culture). Deep
breathing will also affect the intestines and urge a motion. Bathing
and massage of the abdomen are also useful (see Massage). Clothing
should be light and loose, tight lacing being a frequent cause of
Every effort should be made to keep the bowels regular, as protracted
constipation leads to many painful affections, such as headaches,
piles, and even inflammation of the intestine, the various products of
putrefaction being absorbed and carried through the blood stream. A
daily motion should invariably be solicited at a regular hour. On
rising, before the morning bath, is a good time, though some prefer
just before retiring to bed, and more, probably, go immediately after
breakfast. The great thing is to get into the habit of going daily at a
fixed time; nothing should be allowed to interfere with this, and it is
highly desirable that children should be accustomed to this habit.
Parents should, therefore, see that the schools selected have
sufficient closet accommodation, as schools in private houses often
have but the one closet for a large number. As a result of this
restricted accommodation, the habit of using aperient medicines is
acquired with very injurious results, for if the call of nature is
neglected the desire passes away, and constipation is inevitable. It
soon comes to be a settled condition and will often be the cause of
life-long ill-health. The evils from the formation of such a physical
habit will far outweigh all the so-called accomplishments that may be
Hot or cold water taken in sips throughout the day has often proved a
most valuable cure for constipation.
When artificial means are required to move the bowels, an enema is much
to be preferred to drugs. The way to administer it, so as to be most
effective, is as follows: Use a fountain enema holding three quarts.
Put into it two or three quarts of water as warm as can be comfortably
borne. A teaspoonful of salt added to the water will make it more
effective, or soapy water may be used, made from M'Clinton's soap. The
fountain should be hung up as high above the patient as the
india-rubber tube will allow. The patient should lie on the right side,
with knees drawn up. The tube should then be introduced into the
rectum, and should be three or four inches in. The water may then be
turned on with the thumb valve. If the abdomen can be rubbed by an
attendant in an upward direction it will be better. The water should be
retained, if possible, twenty minutes or half-an-hour.
A HOT FOMENTATION (see) over the liver, before using the enema, will
make it more effective.
A bulb enema syringe may be used instead of the fountain, and less
water--a pint or even less, and the water tepid or cold, may be
preferred by some. The disadvantage of a bulb syringe is however that
sometimes air gets in along with the water, causing pain and
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