Heating Pads For Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation, and Diarrhea
Irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and diarrhea are the most common digestion issues that no one likes to talk about.
The urge to ‘go’, but the inability to do so, or the need to go too often isn’t just inconvenient, sometimes it can be plain painful.
Although there are many over-the-counter medicines that can help alleviate pain and help your bowels get back on their digestive track, don’t underestimate the relieving properties of heat.
Heat, especially when applied with heating pads can relax the outer stomach muscles, helping individuals who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and its accompanying constipation or diarrhea to find relief.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is defined by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases as:
“a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements.”
These symptoms can include:
- Abdominal Pain
Although uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes embarrassing, irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t harm the intestines.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which is a disorder caused by gut-brain interactions.
Basically, it is a miscommunication between the gut and brain, causing the gut to become more sensitive and the intestinal and bowel muscles contract irregularly.
When the gut becomes more sensitive, the abdomen may become more prone to bloating and pain.
The change of the movement of the bowel muscles leads to diarrhea and constipation.
What Is Constipation
Constipation is when your bowels have a hard time releasing the feces from the body.
Signs of constipation include:
- Long periods of time between bowel movements
- Hard Stools
- Small, pebble-like stools
- Inability to relieve yourself, even though you feel that you need to go
What Causes Constipation
According to WebMD, causes of constipation include:
- Changes in diet
- Lack of water
- Lack of Fiber
- Too much dairy in diet
- Not enough physical activity
- Waiting too long to use the restroom
- Too many over-the-counter laxatives
- Too much calcium or aluminum
- Eating Disorders
- Issues with the digestive system
- Colon cancer
- Parkinson's disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hypothyroidism (Underactive thyroid)
Constipation can affect individuals of various health conditions, ages, and lifestyles.
Sadly, constipation is especially common in babies.
Constipation in Babies
One of the most heart wrenching sounds is the cry of a baby in pain.
Those who have had young babies know that there have been times when a baby cries and nothing you do seems to help provide them any comfort.
If you have been in this situation, you know that oftentimes the culprit is gas and constipation.
Because an infant’s digestive tract is still developing and is extra sensitive, it is easy for them to become constipated.
Signs That a Baby is Constipated
Constipated babies usually:
- Have recently changed their diet
- Stomachs feel hard when you gently press on them
- Stools are Infrequent
- When a child does defecate their stools are either hard, pebble-shaped, or liquid diarrhea
- Strain when they try to defecate
- Cry because of stomach cramping
The amount a baby poops and the color and texture of said poop changes depending on their age and diet.
In the beginning, babies will poop all the time, so make sure you are stocked up on plenty of diapers.
Breastfed babies generally have more bowel movements than bottle fed babies.
Breastfed babies' stools are normally yellow and grainy, while bottle fed babies poop are light brown or green with a smoother consistency.
There is a time when a baby may not poop for a day or two at a time.
While this is normal, it can be an uncomfortable time for the infant.
Gas pain and cramping can make even the happiest of babies miserable.
Due to the size of the child and their sensitivity to medications, traditional stool softeners, laxatives, and gas relief medication isn’t recommended.
However, there are over-the-counter gas drops and infant specific medicines that can help the child pass stools.
There are non medicinal ways to help a constipated child find relief when experiencing pain and discomfort due to gas and constipation:
- Heating Pad
- Warm Bath
- Baby Tummy Massage
Heating Pads for Babies
Heating pads are great for babies when they are experiencing gas pains and constipation.
When a baby is gassy or constipated, their stomach muscles are contracting and cramping.
Applying heat to the area helps relax the muscles, alleviating the pain and helping the body to pass the stool with lessened discomfort.
Heating pads that have a little extra weight, such as those who resemble weighted blankets have extra pressure that helps relax the muscles even more.
The best heating pads for babies include:
- Heating pads that do not get too hot
- Heating pads without electrical cords
- Heating pads that do not open
- Heating pads with rot resistant fillers
- Heating pads with a little extra weight
- Heating pads that are not too big
When using a heating pad on a infant or young child, it is important to take certain safety precautions:
- Do not leave an infant unattended with a heating pad. There is a smothering risk with any heating pad.
- Make sure the heating pad is not too hot. Test the heat of the heating pad on the inside of your arm. If it is uncomfortably hot, it is too hot for the baby.
- Hold the child when using the heating pad to make sure the heating pad stays on the tummy.
What Is Diarrhea
Diarrhea is the loose, water, extra smelly stools that afflict individuals on occasion.
Causes for diarrhea, according to WebMD include:
- Lactose Intolerance
- Foods that affect the digestive tract and system
- Bacteria infections
- Overactive Thyroid
- Radiation Therapy
- Crohn's Disease
- Malabsorption (trouble absorbing certain nutrients)
Symptoms of Diarrhea include:
- Watery stools
- Feeling the need to have a bowel movement all of the time
- Throwing up
- Weight loss
- Mucus or blood in the stool
There are over-the-counter medications to help with diarrhea symptoms, but usually individuals spend time in the bathroom until the diarrhea runs its course.
One of the most uncomfortable side effects is the gas cramping that usually accompanies it.
Heating pads are a great way to help relieve the pain, especially since they can be applied on the stomach, even when the individual isn’t able to leave the bathroom.
What is Bloating
One of the common indicators and side effects of irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and diarrhea is the uncomfortable bloating that accompanies them.
Bloating is when an excess of gas or a change in the movements of the muscles of the digestive system cause your stomach to feel swollen and expanded (Healthline).
Bloating occurs when there is an excessive amount of gas, liquids, or solids in the digestive tract.
By adjusting what you eat or the quantities of food that you consume it is possible to reduce your chance of bloating.
Certain foods cause gas more than others.
Foods that give you gas include:
- Beans and other legumes
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Grains and starches
- High fat foods
Try eliminating certain foods from your diet to see what foods your digestive system is most sensitive to.
Pay attention and record how different foods affect you and look to see if certain foods give you more gas than others.
If modifying your diet isn’t enough, try some of the following suggestions to help reduce the discomfort of bloating:
- Use a heating pad on your stomach
- Get exercise
- Cut down on salt intake
- Add probiotics into your diet
- Drink peppermint tea
- Try different yoga poses that focus on muscles in the abdomen
- Take a warm bath
- Cut down on sugar intake
- Drink water, not sodas
Relieving Abdominal Pain With Heating Pads
As stated earlier, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea and all of the accompanying side effects may not indicate serious health concerns.
However, sometimes they do, in which case it is important to consult a healthcare provider with any concerns you may have.
Serious or not, digestional issues can seriously impact an individual's quality of life, especially when it comes to abdominal pain.
Earlier, we mentioned how stomach and intestinal muscles can begin cramping due to the miscommunication between the brain and the gut.
When these muscles constrict, it makes the other symptoms pale in comparison to the pain in the stomach.
Medications, over-the-counter or otherwise can help, but it is important to have non medicinal tools to help ease the discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, etc.
To prepare against abdominal pains, be it from digestional issues or menstrual cramping, it is recommended to have a reliable heating pad always on hand.
The best heating pad for any occasion is:
- Weighted, similar to a weighted blanket
- A comfortable temperature soon after being warmed up
- Made from nonperishable materials
- Doesn’t smell
- Big enough to cover the stomach area
- Easy to store
- Maintains a comfortable temperature for an extended period of time
- Durable, with filling that will not leak out
(If you are looking for a heating pad with all of these qualities, check out our Lavabags, made out of indestructible lava sand.)
By being prepared, unexpected bouts of bowel irregularities don’t have to be very painful or life-stalling if you apply heat and follow some of the suggestions provided in this article.
Constipation and Diarrhea happen, so be prepared.
Get a heating pad and some over-the-counter laxatives or Imodium and don’t let digestive irregularities dictate your life.