Constipation happens when you have difficulty passing stools which may go on for several days. It is a common digestive disorder which causes you to have as few as three bowel movements in a week. If your waste moves too slowly in your digestive tract, the stools become dry and hard, making the process of defecating very difficult.
As mentioned, the first warning sign of constipation is when you pass as few as three stools in an entire week. You may be experiencing constipation if you experience a combination of the following symptoms:
- Hard stools
- Straining during bowel movements
- Feeling a certain “blockage” that’s preventing your bowel movements
It is recommended that you see your doctor if you experience any of the signs above for long periods of time. Constipation can lead to other more serious complications if left untreated like rectal prolapse, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and fecal impaction.
Who are at risk
Your diet plays a crucial role in any kind of digestive disorder and constipation is no exemption. Those who have sedentary lifestyles and do not eat meals rich in fiber may experience constipation more frequently than others. Other uncontrolled risk factors include:
- Age – Older people tend to experience constipation more often, most especially the elderly
- Sex – Women, particularly pregnant women, are likely to be constipated due to the added pressure against their stomach
- Suffering from other illnesses - Those who have preexisting health conditions like diabetes, an overactive/underactive thyroid, eating disorders, and diabetes. Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and stroke may affect normal contraction in the rectum
- Taking certain medications – Some prescribed medications may cause constipation like antidepressants and blood pressure medicines
- Weak pelvic muscles – Certain disorders like anismus and dyssynergia may also affect bowel movement
Changing your overall lifestyle can greatly affect the way you pass stools. Switching to a high fiber consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help you pass stools more often. Load up on fluids, monitor your bowel movements and keep dairy consumption to a minimum. Exercising regularly and avoiding excessive stress can also positively affect the way your body digests food. If your body is still not responding to these natural remedies, then you may take a dose of laxatives as prescribed by your physician.
An average person should be consuming around 25 – 28 grams of fiber every day to lower the risk of constipation. Keep these ingredients in mind if you want to increase your fiber intake:
- Whole wheat bread/pasta
- Brown rice
- Fruits like apples and pears
- Chia seeds
It is recommended that you keep the skin of fruits intact to fully take advantage of its fiber content and healthy phytochemicals. Too busy to sit down and eat in the morning? Consider making healthy smoothies so your body gets its daily dose of fiber while staying hydrated at the same time. Always consult your doctor before drinking any kind of medication, including vitamins. Keep in mind that your physician is in the best position to prescribe the right kind of treatment for your condition. Immediately stop using a product if you experience negative side effects.