Notably, Constipation is a common condition that affects people of all ages. Whereas, it can indicate that you’re not passing stools regularly or you’re unable to completely empty your bowel. Important to realize, constipation can also cause your stools to be hard and lumpy.
However, the severity of constipation varies from person to person. Many people only experience constipation for a short time, but for others, constipation can be a long-term (chronic) condition that causes significant pain and discomfort and affects the quality of life.
Who is Affected by Constipation?
Constipation can occur in babies, children, and adults. It’s estimated that around 1 in every 7 adults and up to 1 in every 3 children have constipation at any one time. The condition affects twice as many women as men and is also more common in older adults and during pregnancy.
Giving yourself enough time and privacy to pass stools comfortably may also help, and you should try not to ignore the urge to go to the toilet. Making the diet and lifestyle changes mentioned herein can also help to reduce your risk of developing constipation in the first place.
What causes constipation?
Constipation is a condition of the digestive system where an individual has hard feces that are difficult to expel. In most cases, this occurs because the colon has absorbed too much water from the food that is in the colon. It’s often difficult to identify the exact cause of constipation.
The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water the colon will absorb from it. Consequently, the feces become dry and hard. When this happens, emptying the bowels can become very painful. However, there are a number of things that contribute to the condition, including:
- Not eating enough fiber, such as fruit, vegetables, and cereals
- A change in your routine or lifestyle, such as a change in your eating habits
- Ignoring the urge to pass stools
- Side effects of certain medications
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Anxiety or depression
In children, poor diet, fear about using the toilet and problems toilet training can all lead to constipation.
What Are the Symptoms?
Constipation happens when the colon absorbs too much water. This can occur if the muscles in the colon are contracting slowly or poorly, causing the stool to move too slowly and lose more water.
The main symptoms of constipation have increased the difficulty and strain when passing stools. Notably, passing fewer stools than usual can be a sign of constipation.
You may also have:
- Few bowel movements
- Trouble having a bowel movement (straining to go)
- Hard or small stools
- A sense that everything didn’t come out
- Belly bloating
Set aside enough time to allow your toilet visit to be unstressed and uninterrupted, and do not ignore any urge to have a bowel movement.
What Should I Do If I Am Constipated?
Take these steps: Including;
- Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day, unless your doctor told you to limit fluids for another reason.
- Try warm liquids, especially in the morning.
- Add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
- Eat prunes and bran cereal.
- Exercise most days of the week. When you move your body, the muscles in your intestines are more active, too.
- Don’t ignore the urge to poop.
You can try taking a laxative, too. There are several types of laxatives, and you can buy many of them over the counter.
Each of them works in a different way to ease constipation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which kind might work for you and how long you should take it.
Can I Prevent Constipation?
Of course, Yes! Diet and lifestyle changes are usually recommended as the first treatment for constipation. This includes gradually increasing your daily intake of fiber, making sure you drink plenty of fluids and trying to get more exercise. If these aren’t effective, your GP may prescribe an oral laxative medication that can help you empty your bowels.
Treatment for constipation is effective, although in some cases it can take several months before a regular bowel pattern is re-established.
In many cases, you can.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran).
- Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids a day (unless your doctor has you on a fluid-restricted diet). Fiber and water work together to keep you regular.
- Avoid caffeine. It can be dehydrating.
- Cut back on milk. Dairy products can constipate some people.
- Exercise regularly. Do something active for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.
- Go to the bathroom when you feel the urge.
When Should I Consult My Doctor?
Call your doctor right away if you have sudden constipation with belly pain or cramping and you aren’t able to poop or pass gas at all. For most people constipation rarely causes complications, but people with long-term constipation can develop:
- Hemorrhoids (piles)
- Fecal impaction (where dry, hard stools collect in the rectum)
- Bowel incontinence (the leakage of liquid stools)
Also, make the call if:
- Constipation is a new problem for you, and lifestyle changes haven’t helped.
- You have blood in your stool.
- You’re losing weight even though you’re not trying to.
- You have severe pain with bowel movements.
- Your constipation has lasted more than 2 weeks.
- The size, shape, and consistency of your stool have changed dramatically.
Your doctor may recommend some tests to find the cause of your constipation:
- Blood tests to check on hormone levels
- Tests that check the muscles in your anus
- Tests that show how waste moves through and out of your colon
- Colonoscopy to look for blockages in your colon
How Is Constipation Treated?
In the majority of cases, constipation resolves itself without any treatment or risk to health. The treatment of recurring constipation can include lifestyle changes such as doing more exercise, eating more fiber, and drinking more water. Usually, laxatives will successfully treat most cases of constipation – but should be used with care and only when necessary.
In more difficult cases, the person may need prescription medication. It is important to understand the cause of constipation – there could be an underlying illness or condition.
Some people with recurring constipation use a daily diary where they record their bowel movements, stool characteristics, and other factors that may help both the doctor and patient devise the best treatment. Some gastroenterologists comment that there are people who do not allocate enough time for their defecation.
Being constipated means your bowel movements are tough or happen less often than normal. Almost everyone goes through it at some point. Although it’s not usually serious, you’ll feel much better when your body is back on track.
The normal length of time between bowel movements varies widely from person to person. Some people have them three times a day. Others have them just a few times a week. Going longer than 3 or more days without one, though, is usually too long. After 3 days, your poop gets harder and more difficult to pass.
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