Constipation: Your Questions Answered
Your bowel habits are not always an easy subject to talk about. However, constipation is a common problem that many people experience at some point in their lives. Fortunately, several treatments exist that can help to relieve this condition, including medications and lifestyle changes. Read on to discover more!
1. What is constipation?
Constipation can make it hard to pass stools or can result in stools being hard and dry. This can lead to infrequent bowel movements, discomfort and bloating. Constipation isn't typically that serious, but it can be uncomfortable and frustrating. However, if constipation becomes acute, it could cause a bowel obstruction resulting in serious injury or illness. For this reason, it is always an excellent idea to see a GP if you experience symptoms of constipation.
2. What are the possible complications of constipation?
In rare cases, constipation can cause other health problems such as faecal incontinence, haemorrhoids and anal fissures. Faecal incontinence means you find it hard to control your bowel movements, leading to accidental leakage of stool. Haemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum that can cause pain, itching and bleeding. Anal fissures are small tears in the skin surrounding the anus that can be very painful.
3. What causes constipation?
Some common reasons people experience constipation include:
Not eating enough fibre
Fibre helps add bulk to stool, making them softer and easier to pass. Foods high in fibre include fruits, whole grains and legumes.
Consuming too much dairy
Dairy products can cause the body to produce more mucus, making stools harder to pass.
Not drinking enough fluids
Fluids help soften stool and keep the intestines lubricated. You should make an effort to take little sips of water on a frequent basis throughout the day.
Lack of exercise
Exercise helps stimulate the digestive system and can prevent constipation.
Some medications, such as opioid pain killers, can cause constipation.
4. How can my doctor help treat constipation?
If lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications don't relieve constipation, your doctor may prescribe a laxative or stool softener. These treatments can help you have regular bowel movements and make it easier to pass stool. In more acute cases, your doctor may recommend an enema or surgery to help to remove any faecal matter that you cannot pass through your anus.
If you want to find out more about constipation, you should contact a medical clinic today. A doctor will be able to assess your health and can provide further advice, treatment and support.