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Constipation

A woman standing up clutching her stomach with one hand; in the other hand she is holding a toilet roll. The word – Constipation – can be seen
 
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Constipation is a common condition that can affect people at any time of their life. It is usually something you can treat at home.
Constipation often causes discomfort and sometimes severe pain. It makes going to the toilet an uncomfortable experience. Some causes of constipation may also highlight other health issues.

There are some primary causes of constipation, and identifying these can help to reduce the impact of future episodes, such as:

A Diet Lacking Fibre

Diet is a significant factor in constipation, as many people experience it if they don’t eat enough fibre. Fibre can be found in foods, such as vegetables, fruit and cereals.

Dehydration

Alongside food, constipation could be an indicator that you’re not drinking enough fluids.

Inactivity

Lack of movement is another reason. Gentle exercise, such as walking, can help keep the bowel muscles active.

Ignoring The Need To Go To The Toilet

Although stifling the urge to go to the toilet is ok every now and then, if a person is frequently doing it, it can cause issues with bowel movements that can lead to constipation.

Change In Diet Or Routine

A change in your everyday routine, or eating habits, can cause this condition.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications have known side effects that cause constipation. You might find it helpful to check the side effects of medicines you’re taking to ensure you can balance them without discomfort.

Stress And Anxiety

Stress can play a significant part in how your body and mind reacts to situations, and the bowel is often a place that suffers the effects of stress.

Pregnancy

Constipation is a common condition during pregnancy, due to the changes in hormones and the body. It can also occur up to around six weeks after giving birth.

Medical Conditions

In some rare cases, constipation can be caused by an existing medical condition.

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It is usually quite simple to identify the symptoms of constipation. Some of the main things to look out for include:

Difficulty Passing Stools

One of the main ways that indicate constipation is the difficulty in passing stools. You may find them hard to push out, and the stools are often hard and dry.

Irregular Bowel Movements

If bowel movements are typically regular and there is a change in this routine.

Stomach Discomfort

Constipation can cause the stomach to bloat and feel uncomfortable. It may also make a person feel sick, or experience stomach ache.

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Constipation can usually be treated at home. Some changes to diet and lifestyle often help, and symptoms may clear up in a matter of days, or weeks. It is not typically a long-term condition. However, it is essential to see a doctor if symptoms persist after steps have been taken to alleviate them. Constipation may also indicate an underlying health issue. 

There are some easy ways to help you avoid constipation such as:

Make Changes To Your Diet And Lifestyle

One of the easiest ways to alleviate constipation is to look at your diet. In many cases, fibre is a crucial factor, and if you’re not getting enough of it, it can cause issues. A simple way to up your fibre intake is by eating foods, such as wheat bran, oats and linseed. A well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables will help to regulate your bowel movements.

Drinking More Fluids

Many people don’t drink enough. Increasing your water intake is not only great for your health, it also helps keep your body feeling refreshed and energised. It will also help if you minimise your alcohol and caffeine intake, as these drinks can affect digestion.

Toilet Routine

Most people, without thinking about it, have a toilet routine. Having one in place allows you time to use the toilet and takes away the stress of urgent toilet stops. However, if you feel the urge to go, find a toilet as soon as possible, as holding it in could lead to constipation. If you find it difficult to pass stools, placing your feet on an object that raises your knees above your hips can help you go.

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Photo by EtiAmmos on iStock

If you experience constipation, a pharmacist, or doctor will be able to help alleviate symptoms by prescribing some medicine.

If you have constipation regularly, it could be the sign of a health issue, so seeking medical help is advisable.

If you require further information, or support for the condition, Guts UK is a charity that helps people suffering from digestive diseases. They have several resources that are useful for sufferers

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Medical terms are often baffling and difficult to fully understand. To help, we have listed some frequently used terms below.

Bloating – feel full, or swollen, in the abdomen area, caused by disturbances in the digestive system

Bowel – a part of the digestive system below the stomach

Fibre – a complex carbohydrate found in plant-based foods

Stools – also known as faeces, or poo