Constipation is not uncommon. It is a condition in which a person has fewer bowel movements than usual. You have to remember that every person has a different schedule. Some people could go from one to three bowel movements per day. However, the accepted minimum per week is three bowel movements.
Symptoms and Causes
If you have less than three bowel movements per week and you have a hard stool that is painful to pass, it could be constipation. You will also feel bloated all the time, have abdominal cramps, and sometimes you will see blood on the stool.
Some known causes are lack of fiber and water in the body. Constipation could also be a side effect of some of the medication you’re taking including daily vitamin supplements.
Constipation for women who can still give birth might be a sign of early pregnancy. An increase in progesterone relaxes the muscles in your intestine’s wall.
Some kids also have trouble with toilet training. If they ignore the urge to pass stools, then most likely constipation will develop.
Your state of mind and emotional health can also affect your bowel movements. Depression for example causes your bodily functions to slow down. Medications for allergies, depression, and blood pressure also affect your bowels.
Constipation might also be a symptom of medical conditions. Hypothyroidism for example, causes the metabolic processes to slow down. Inflammatory bowel disease causes constipation as well. Diabetes can also disrupt how your body digests food and gets rid of wastes.
Treatment and Prevention
If not treated, constipation can result into hemorrhoids, bowel incontinence and the hard stool might collect in your rectum.
Cut back on food that you think are causing constipation. There is no definite study yet, but there are food like banana with a reputation that could make passing stool more difficult. Don’t rely too much on laxatives. They should be taken only if indicated by your doctor. Common laxatives are oral osmotics, stool softeners, bulk formers, and stimulants.
Observe the type of food you usually eat. If you notice that you’re consuming too much high-fat food, cut back. Reduce food with white refined carbohydrates and those high in calcium. Some fruits and vegetables also cause constipation. Try sitting on the toilet after meals to stimulate your bowels, but if you already have routine, stick to it.
Children are advised to eat whole grain food along with fruits and vegetables. Sometimes too much milk and dairy products could be the culprit. Toilet training is also important. Eliminate the fear of going to the bathroom and if possible develop a routine to train the child to sit on the toilet at specific times of the day.
To prevent constipation, you have to make changes in your diet and lifestyle. Eat food rich in fiber, drink a lot of water and exercise regularly. Remember that too much of everything is bad. Even too much of healthy food is unhealthy. You don’t need to stop eating what you like, but eat and drink in moderation.