Constipation is as having less than three bowel motions per week. Constipation is relatively frequent, but some people may have chronic Constipation, making it difficult to carry out their everyday activities. Infrequent bowel motions or problematic stool transit that last for a few weeks or more is known as chronic Constipation.
Constipation brings out several signs and symptoms that may persist for at least three months.
These symptoms include:
- Infrequent bowel movements, typically less than three times per week
- Lumpy or hard stool consistency, making it difficult to pass
- Straining during bowel movements
- A sensation of a blockage in the rectum leads to a hindrance in bowel movements
- Feeling as though stool has not fully evacuated from the rectum
- Needing assistance, such as manual pressure on the abdomen or finger manipulation, to aid in rectal emptying.
Causes for undergoing Constipation
The colon’s primary function is to absorb water from undigested food as it travels through the digestive system, forming waste or stool. The muscles in the colon eventually push the waste toward the rectum for elimination. If the stool remains in the colon for an extended period, it can become hardened and difficult to pass.
Constipation often occurs due to a poor diet. Consuming adequate dietary fibre and proper hydration to promote soft stools is essential.
Various factors can cause Constipation, including:
- Inadequate fibre intake, especially diets high in meat, milk, or cheese
- Dehydration, which can lead to harder stools
- Insufficient physical activity or low exercise levels
- Delaying the urge to hold a bowel movement can result in stool becoming harder to pass
- Travelling or changes in routine can disrupt regular bowel habits
- Certain medications, including specific antacids, pain medications, diuretics, and certain treatments for Parkinson’s disease
- Pregnancy, which can affect bowel movements due to hormonal changes and pressure on the intestines
- Advanced age, as Constipation, tends to affect a significant portion (around one-third) of individuals aged 60 and older
Identifying and addressing the underlying causes of Constipation is essential to alleviate symptoms and promote regular bowel movements.
To prevent Constipation, you can follow these tips:
- Ensure your diet includes ample fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Consume high-fibre foods and consult with a healthcare professional about the potential use of fibre supplements
- Incorporate prunes or bran cereal into your diet
- Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Restrict your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration
- Engage in regular physical exercise
- Consider including probiotics in your diet, such as those found in yoghurt and kefir, with live active cultures
- Establish a routine by training your muscles to have a bowel movement simultaneously each day
Implementing these measures can help prevent Constipation and maintain regular bowel movements.
Reviewed by-Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD
Page last reviewed: 03 June 2023