What is Constipation
Constipation is having hard, dry bowel movements, or infrequent bowel movements (less than 3 times per week).
Commons signs and symptoms of constipation include:
- Having less than three bowel movements a week
- Lumpy, dry, or hard stools
- Straining to pass stools
- Feeling like a blockage is preventing bowel movements
- Feeling like you can’t completely empty the rectum during bowel movements
- Needing help to empty the rectum, such as pressing on the abdomen, or using a finger to remove stool from the rectum
Common causes of constipation include:
- Lack of exercise
- Travel, or other changes in routine
- Delaying or resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
- Certain medications, such as antacids or pain medications
- Low-fiber diet, especially diets high in meat, milk, or cheese
Certain groups of people are at greater risk of experiencing constipation:
- Ages 65 and older
- Bedridden people
- Women and children
- Pregnant people
Treatment is one of the most common digestive problems, but there are also plenty of treatment methods. Treatments usually involve medications, and changes to lifestyle, changing the diet or adding more physical exercise one’s life.
Things you can do on your own to treat and prevent constipation:
- Drink lots of water
- Limit alcohol, caffeine, and other dehydrating beverages
- Eat fiber-rich foods, such quinoa, whole grains, beans, and certain vegetables. Aim for 20-35 grams of fiber, daily.
- Limit low-fiber foods, such as dairy, and processed foods
- Aim for 30 mins of exercise per day, 5 days a week
- If considering supplements, or laxatives (use sparingly), speak to a doctor for recommendations
When to See a Medical Doctor
If you’ve had less than three bowel movements in a week, experience any of the other symptoms of constipation, or are have risk factors that make constipation more likely, speak to a doctor.
Left untreated, chronic constipation can lead to pain, discomfort, and sometimes more serious issues.