People tend to take regular bowels for movement, not realizing just how important they are until they are no longer able to have them. When lupus and constipation coincide, patients’ overall well-being is significantly affected. Chronic constipation can result in abdominal swelling, pain, and, in some cases, vomiting. Given that lupus patients already have to deal with pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and other distressing conditions, constipation makes their daily experience much more unpleasant.
Lupus constipation can be caused by a variety of factors. One of them is thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid, a condition brought on by immune system attacks on the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis can cause such symptoms as tremors, weight loss, a rapid heartbeat, heat intolerance, sleep disturbance, fatigue, and weakness. It may also result in constipation. In this case, the link between lupus and constipation is an indirect one.
Lupus and constipation may be indirectly linked in another way: The constipation may be a response to the drugs taken by patients to treat the symptoms of lupus. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids both have the capacity to cause digestive problems in some patients. Their side effects may include constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Lupus and constipation may also be linked in patients whose digestive tract muscles are not highly effective at facilitating peristalsis. As a consequence, the waste matter moves through the large intestines at a slower speed than normal.
Nutritional Intervention for Patients with Constipation and Lupus
Constipation can be treated using laxatives. However, laxatives are not ideal for long-term use. In many cases, it is more effective to use nutritional approaches to relieve constipation. For one, plenty of water should be a part of the regular diet. It is also advisable to eat wholesome foods that are high in fiber and in minerals or vitamins. Wholegrain cereals are included among such foods, and a particularly apt example is oatmeal. Oatmeal is a fiber-rich cereal that helps to establish regularity in bowel movements when it is eaten on a daily basis.
Some lupus patients also suffer from celiac disease, another inflammatory autoimmune disease. Hence, they cannot eat gluten-containing cereals. While pure oatmeal does not contain gluten, much store-bought oatmeal is manufactured on the same equipment as gluten-containing cereals. Hence, it can irritate the patients’ digestive systems if they happen to eat it. Lupus patients who also have celiac disease are well-advised to purchase certified gluten-free oatmeal.
Fresh fruit and dark green, leafy vegetables are also excellent dietary sources of fiber. So are seeds and nuts. These can be prepared in different ways to make them easier to consume. For instance, fruits and vegetables can be juiced. In addition, seeds and nuts can be ground to create nut butters or seed butters.