CONSTIPATION, a state of the system marked by an irregular and sluggish action of the bowels upon their contents, due either to defective secretion of the juices of the intestinal mucous membrane, or to an imperfection of the peristaltic movements (see DioEsnox). Sedentary habits predispose to C., as also does the use of animal food in too great a relative amount. The use of brown bread, or of lentils, oatmeal porridge. of green vegetables and salads, or of ripe fruits; the plentiful employment of salt or of saline drinks, or of many natural mineral waters; and active exercise, especially by walking or riding on horseback in the open air, tend to avert this disease. A favorite remedy with some is the use of a cloth wrung out of cold water, and applied to the abdomen; this, as used at hydropathic establishments, is called an "abdominal com press," and is worn under a bandage of macintosh cloth, to keep the moisture from escaping, during the earlier part of the day. But to many persons affected with C., and unable. from circumstances to follow out the plan of life here indicated, and to many others in whom the disease does not yield to these means, the use of laxatives, or mild cathartics (q.v.), is almost a necessity; and it is satisfactory to know that these remedies, if judiciously selected, and not employed so as to produce over-action, may be taken during very many years without any of the bad effects often ascribed to them.
Constipation in the lower animals depends, as in man, on imperfect secretion from, or motion of, the intestinal walls. In the horse, it is usually accompanied by colic (q.v.), and when long continued, leads to enteritis (q.v.). The appropriate remedies are soap and water elysters, given every two hours; smart friction and cloths wrung out of hot water applied to the abdomen, with three drachms of aloes, and one of calomel, given in gruel, and repeated in sixteen hours, if no effect is produced. Give, besides, walk ing exercise; restrict the amount of dry solid food, but allow plenty of thin gruel or other fluids, which may be rendered more laxative by admixture with treacle or a little salt. Similar treatment is called for in dogs, cats, and pigs. In cattle and sheep, diges tion principally takes place in the large and quadrisected stomach; the bowels, accord ingly, are little liable to derangement; and C., when occurring in these animals, gen
erally depends upon impaction of dry hard food between the leaves of the maniples, third stomach, or fardel-bag. The complaint is hence called It results from the eating of tough and indigestible food, such as ripe vetches, rye-grass, or clover; it prevails in dry seasons, and on pastures where the herbage is coarse and the water scarce. It'occurs amongst cattle partaking freely of hedge-cuttings or shoots of trees, hence its synonym of From continuous cramming and want of exercise, it is frequent in stall-feeding animals; whilst from the drying up of the natural secretions, it accompanies most febrile and inflammatory diseases. The milder case's constitute the ordinary form of indigestion in ruminants, are accompanied by what the cow-man terms loss of cud, and usually yield to a dose of salts given with an ounce or two of ginger. In more protracted cases, rumination is suspended, appetite, gone, constipation ana fever are present. There is a grunt noticeable, especially when the animal is moved, and different from that accompanying chest-complaints, by its occurrence at the commence ment of expiration. By pressing the closed fist upwards and forwards beneath the short ribs on the right side, the round, hard, distended stomach may be felt. This state of matters may continue for ten days or a fortnight, when the animal, if unrelieved, becomes nauseated, and sinks. Stupor sometimes precedes death, whilst in some sea sons and localities most of the bad cases are accompanied by excitement and frenzy. In this, as in other respects, the disease closely corresponds with stomach-staggers in the horse.
purgatives in large doses, combining several together, and exhib iting them with stimulants in plenty of fluid. For a medium-sized ox or cow, use lb. each of common and Epsom salts, ten croton beans, and a drachm of calomel, with 3 ozs. of turpentine; and administer this in half a gallon of water. If no effect is produced in twenty hours, repeat the dose. Withhold all solid food; encourage the animal to drink gruel, sloppy mashes, treacle and water; and give exercise, clysters, and occasional hot fomentations to the belly.