Constipation. It’s almost impossible to talk about bowel issues without an awkward giggle unless you either grew up in a family with boys or are among its chronic sufferers. According to research presented by the American College of Gastroenterology Meeting in 2015, 15%—about 65 million people—experience chronic constipation. Even more people than that have experienced it at one point or another during their life. Chances are, you have experienced it yourself. Constipation is an issue we see and treat fairly frequently. More importantly, severe and chronic constipation could be symptomatic of something far less innocuous.
So, what is constipation? What exactly is happening to your body?
Several symptoms define constipation. The Mayo Clinic tells us a few of the most significant:
- Having fewer than three stools a week.
- Having lumpy or hard stools.
- Straining to have bowel movements.
- Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements.
- Feeling as though you can’t completely empty the stool from your rectum.
- Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum.
Experiencing these symptoms is uncomfortable and frustrating. So, what should you do to 1) avoid them, 2) eradicate them, or 3) know when to call a doctor? Here are a few ways to either prevent or treat constipation.
- According to United Kingdom’s National Health Service, an adult should consume about 30 grams of fiber per day. However, it is important to increase your fiber intake gradually as a sudden increase may simply aggravate your stomach problems. Foods with high fiber include raspberries, whole wheat pasta, and lentils.
- Medical News Today reports that causes of constipation range from ingesting certain foods such as dairy products and a lack of water to mental issues like stress and sudden changes in routine. Take note of what’s going on in your life and your diet when you experience symptoms.
- Identifying both your normal routine and diet are a key aspect of determining what is causing your constipation. The National Institute of Health says that this is the first step in diagnosing a more severe issue. If your symptoms are persistent then the time has come to notify your doctor.
As with many common health problems, simple lifestyle changes are often the most effective and long-lasting sources of relief. For constipation?
- Gradually increase fiber intake.
- Make sure to exercise regularly.
- Stay hydrated.
- If your symptoms persist, then call a doctor.
Constipation is one of the most common health issues in the country. It’s also one people are embarrassed to talk about. Don’t let fear get in the way of your health and comfort. If you are regularly experiencing these symptoms, contact your doctor today to get the help you deserve.