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Childhood Constipation - Clinical Evidence Handbook
Therapeutic Uses of Magnesium - Article
ABSTRACT: Magnesium is an essential mineral for optimal metabolic function. Research has shown that the mineral content of magnesium in food sources is declining, and that magnesium depletion has been detected in persons with some chronic diseases. This has led to an increased awareness of proper magnesium intake and its potential therapeutic role in a number of medical conditions. Studies have shown the effectiveness of magnesium in eclampsia and preeclampsia, arrhythmia, severe asthma, and migraine. Other areas that have shown promising results include lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, improving glucose and insulin metabolism, relieving symptoms of dysmenorrhea, and alleviating leg cramps in women who are pregnant. The use of magnesium for constipation and dyspepsia are accepted as standard care despite limited evidence. Although it is safe in selected patients at appropriate dosages, magnesium may cause adverse effects or death at high dosages. Because magnesium is excreted renally, it should be used with caution in patients with kidney disease. Food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Constipation in the Elderly - Article
ABSTRACT: Constipation affects as many as 26 percent of elderly men and 34 percent of elderly women and is a problem that has been related to diminished perception of quality of life. Constipation may be the sign of a serious problem such as a mass lesion, the manifestation of a systemic disorder such as hypothyroidism or a side effect of medications such as narcotic analgesics. The patient with constipation should be questioned about fluid and food intake, medications, supplements and homeopathic remedies. The physical examination may reveal local masses or thrombosed hemorrhoids, which may be contributing to the constipation. Visual inspection of the colon is useful when no obvious cause of constipation can be determined. Treatment should address the underlying abnormality. The chronic use of certain treatments, such as laxatives, should be avoided. First-line therapy should include bowel retraining, increased dietary fiber and fluid intake, and exercise when possible. Laxatives, stool softeners and nonabsorbable solutions may be needed in some patients with chronic constipation.
ABSTRACT: More than one third of children complain of abdominal pain lasting two weeks or longer. The diagnostic approach to abdominal pain in children relies heavily on the history provided by the parent and child to direct a step-wise approach to investigation. If the history and physical examination suggest functional abdominal pain, constipation or peptic disease, the response to an empiric course of medical management is of greater value than multiple "exclusionary" investigations. A symptom diary allows the child to play an active role in the diagnostic process. The medical management of constipation, peptic disease and inflammatory bowel disease involves nutritional strategies, pharmacologic intervention and behavior and psychologic support.
ABSTRACT: Constipation is traditionally defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week. Risk factors for constipation include female sex, older age, inactivity, low caloric intake, low-fiber diet, low income, low educational level, and taking a large number of medications. Chronic constipation is classified as functional (primary) or secondary. Functional constipation can be divided into normal transit, slow transit, or outlet constipation. Possible causes of secondary chronic constipation include medication use, as well as medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or irritable bowel syndrome. Frail older patients may present with nonspecific symptoms of constipation, such as delirium, anorexia, and functional decline. The evaluation of constipation includes a history and physical examination to rule out alarm signs and symptoms. These include evidence of bleeding, unintended weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, acute onset constipation in older patients, and rectal prolapse. Patients with one or more alarm signs or symptoms require prompt evaluation. Referral to a subspecialist for additional evaluation and diagnostic testing may be warranted.
ABSTRACT: Childhood constipation is common and almost always functional without an organic etiology. Stool retention can lead to fecal incontinence in some patients. Often, a medical history and physical examination are sufficient to diagnose functional constipation. Further evaluation for Hirschsprung disease, a spinal cord abnormality, or a metabolic disorder may be warranted in a child with red flags, such as onset before one month of age, delayed passage of meconium after birth, failure to thrive, explosive stools, and severe abdominal distension. Successful therapy requires prevention and treatment of fecal impaction, with oral laxatives or rectal therapies. Polyethylene glycol–based solutions have become the mainstay of therapy, although other options, such as other osmotic or stimulant laxatives, are available. An increase in dietary fiber may improve the likelihood that laxatives can be discontinued in the future. Education is equally important as medical therapy and should include counseling families to recognize withholding behaviors; to use behavior interventions, such as regular toileting and reward systems; and to expect a chronic course with prolonged therapy, frequent relapses, and a need for close follow-up. Referral to a subspecialist is recommended only when there is concern for organic disease or when the constipation persists despite adequate therapy.