Constipation is a very common problem that is experienced by many people. It is a chronic condition in which bowel movements occur less often than usual, or consist of hard and dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass, or the person experiences a sense of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement.
Normal bowel movements differentiate from person to person. For some people, passing stool twice a day is completely normal, while for others, 3 times a week is the normal. Any change from the normal habit is the best way to understand if you are constipated or not.
What are the causes of constipation?
Various factors can lead to constipation, such as:
- unhealthy and irregular eating habits, or eating very small portions
- not visiting the toilet when the pressure arises
- leading a sedentary lifestyle
- insufficient exercise
- dehydration or not drinking enough water
- lack of fibre-rich foods in the diet
Diagnosis of constipation
If constipation becomes chronic, it is advisable to visit your doctor or a general practitioner. The doctor may suggest some dietary and lifestyle changes.
Constipation can also be the symptom of an underlying health condition. Therefore, the doctor may suggest the following tests to rule out other health conditions:
- Blood tests: Blood tests can specifically point out thyroid related problems, such as low thyroid.
- Sigmoidoscopy: In this test the doctor examines your rectum and the lower portion of your colon.
- Colonoscopy: This test allows your doctor to examine the entire colon with a flexible, camera-equipped tube.
- Balloon expulsion test: This test measures the amount of time it takes for you to push out a balloon that has been filled with water and placed in your rectum.
- Anorectal manometry: This test allows your doctor to measure the coordination of the muscles you use to move your bowels.
What are the symptoms of constipation?
Various symptoms can suggest that you may be constipated. These include, but are not limited to:
- hard and difficult stools less than three times a week, requiring you to strain
- requiring laxatives more than three times a week
- stools that cause tearing and bleeding near the anus
- the feeling of not being fully emptied after going to the toilet
- a painful or distended stomach
What is the treatment of constipation?
The doctor may prescribe some laxatives for chronic constipation. However, medicines alone are not the answer to ending constipation.
It is suggested that you work alongside your doctor to adopt some healthy lifestyle habits, including adopting healthy dietary habits to resolve constipation.
Exercising can provide relief from constipation by decreasing the time it takes for the food to move through the large intestine. Exercises such as aerobics accelerate your breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the intestinal muscles to contract naturally. When the intestinal muscles contract easily, they help move the stools out smoothly and quickly.
Exercises such as running, jogging, swimming, can keep your digestive tract healthy. Yoga can help cure constipation as can aerobics, and brisk walking.