What is Constipation?
Constipation is a very common condition affecting many people. It tends to affect more women than men. It appears to be especially common in women just before their period or during pregnancy. It is normally not very serious although occasionally, complications can occur if the condition is not treated.
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation can be caused by a number of different factors. A number of which are described below.
The main cause is believed to be a lack of fluids in the diet. The stools then become hard and small which the body struggles to expel. A lack of fibre also has the same effect. What then happens, is that the stools which the body can’t expel are retained where they dry out even further and then work their way back up into the colon where they can cause a blockage.
Some drugs e.g. painkillers and some types of cough medicines may cause constipation. By taking medical laxatives which my relieve the symptoms in the short term may actually increase the problem as the body becomes resistant to them over time.
There are a number of other causes which include
Not being active
Too much calcium or too much iron in your diet
Drinking too much strong tea or coffee which has a diuretic effect by making you urinate more often thus dehydrating your body
Bowel muscles not being strong enough – this is more common in elderly people as their muscles in their whole body become weaker
Recent abdominal surgery – this may have the effect of weakening your bowel muscles
IBS can be a cause of constipation.
What are the Symptoms of Constipation?
The symptoms of constipation are as follows.
Stomach ache and cramps
Change in your normal bowel pattern
Loss of appetite
Fatigue and depression
Should you experience any of these conditions and they are with you for more than a couple of days, it is important that you see a doctor. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes these symptoms could mean something much more serious.
What is the Treatment for Constipation?
Quite often, the best treatment for constipation, is simply to increase the amount of fibre in your diet. That includes lots of vegetables and cereal products. Most of us don’t eat enough of these things.
Also, increasing the amount of water that we drink can help to relief the symptoms of constipation. The vast majority of people don’t drink enough. By drinking more, you can not only relieve the symptoms of constipation, but it will improve your general health as well, making you feel better.
By taking more exercise, you can help to eradicate constipation. This can be something as simple as a 30 minute brisk walk 3 – 4 times a week.
If you are going to take laxatives, then they should only be as a temporary measure. If you find that you are having to take them for a long period of time, you should probably go and visit a doctor.
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