Everything You Need to Know About Constipation
Do you feel like you need to relieve some pressure on your porcelain throne, but you just can’t seem to get the process moving? Has it been a while since you’ve taken a “number two?” If this is your unfortunate reality, you may be experiencing the symptoms of constipation.
What Is Constipation?
According to WebMD, “being constipated means your bowel movements are tough or happen less often than normal.” It happens to everyone at some point however, there are a wide variety of factors that affect the likelihood of becoming constipated.
Symptoms of Constipation
Constipation can occur randomly or even chronically. Constipation is considered to be chronic after you’ve experienced at least two symptoms of constipation. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms of constipation may include:
- Passing 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
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation is usually caused by waste moving too slowly through the digestive system. Often times this results in the stool becoming extremely dry which makes it difficult to pass the stool.
On the other hand, chronic constipation can be caused by a wide variety of things. Blockages in the colon and/or rectum, problems with the nerves around the colon/rectum, difficulty with the muscles involved in elimination, and/or conditions that affect hormones can all play a role in your constipation (or lack thereof).
There are also certain factors that put you at a higher risk of experiencing constipation. Older people, women, people who are dehydrated, those with low-fiber diets, individuals with certain mental illnesses, and people who don’t exercise often are all at a higher risk of experiencing constipation. Certain medications can also cause constipation.
Chronic constipation can even have a negative impact on your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, unaddressed chronic constipation can result in hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal impaction, and even rectal prolapse.
Treatments for Constipation
Making changes to your lifestyle and diet are great ways to treat chronic constipation. Many of these types of treatment help stool move smoothly through the digestive tract.
Take In More Fiber
According to the Mayo Clinic, increasing your fiber intake is a great way to help treat constipation. Eating more grains, wheat, and vegetables are some great ways to add fiber to your diet. It’s recommended that you start adding fiber to your diet slowly so you can avoid any unwanted bloating and/or gas.
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Don't Ignore Your Body
If you’re already experiencing constipation, one way it can be exacerbated is if you ignore your body’s urge to use the bathroom. Often times constipation can be extremely difficult to deal with and get through, so if you’re experiencing the urge to use the bathroom while constipated you should always get to the bathroom as soon as you can. You never know when that urge will come again when you’re constipated!
Exercise is a great way to treat constipation. Not only is it great for your health as a whole, but exercise helps increase muscle activity in the intestines. This is just another reason why you should factor exercise into your daily schedule even if you’re constipated.
There are also several types of laxatives that can be used to help treat constipation. Some of these laxatives include fiber supplements, stimulants, osmotics, lubricants, stool softeners, enemas, and suppositories.
Unfortunately, everyone can remember a time where they were feeling a tad constipated. However, there are ways that you can decrease the risk of becoming constipated. Methods used to prevent constipation are similar to the treatments used when one is actually constipated.
Drinking a lot of fluids, staying active, maintaining a high-fiber diet, and trying to create a schedule (as much as possible of course) for bowel movements are all methods for reducing the risk of becoming constipated. It’s also important that you don’t ignore your body when it tells you it’s time to use the restroom. When you have to go, go!
Maintaining your mental health and stress levels can have an effect on the likelihood of you getting backed-up.
Getting it Clear and Keeping it Clear
As much as we hate it, constipation can be unavoidable at times. This is why preventing it when you’re able to is very important.
Maintaining a healthy diet, a steady exercise regimen, and taking care of your mental health can all help prevent and treat constipation, and many other pesky ailments.
So next time you feel yourself getting backed up, consider doing some core exercises and having a bowl of brown rice with beans.