refers to hard, inadequate, incomplete, or infrequent bowel movements.
What to look for
hard stools that are
difficult or painful to pass.
no bowel movements in three
days for adults, four days for children.
headache and general discomfort
Your food is normally passed
along the intestines by muscle action called peristalsis. Constipation is simply
interference with this process.
How many times you have bowel
movements is entirely dependant on what and how often you eat, your lifestyle and the type
of person you are. There is no right amount of bowel movements, however if
there is a gap of about 3 days since your last movement, and this is not normal for you,
you may have constipation.
There are a number of
possible causes of this condition -
not eating enough fibre or
drinking enough water,
not getting enough
avoiding going to the
toilet when you know you need to.
Emotional and psychological
constipation may also be a symptom of more serious disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis,
multiple sclerosis, and depression.
Children can become victims
of constipation especially when starting school or a new venture. Bottle-fed babies tend
to have more constipation than breast-fed babies. Being sensitive to pain, children may
avoid the toilet if they have minor splits or tears in the anus from straining or other
Constipation tends to be more
pronounced during pregnancy. Constipation in the elderly usually occurs for lack of
dietary fibre and lack of exercise. Some drugs and vitamin supplements can cause
constipation, as can some dietary iron and calcium supplements.
Your constipation is
generally helped by changing your diet to include more fibre and if necessary, taking a
laxative. However, be aware that the prolonged use of laxatives is not desirable and may
lead to a dependency. If it is more severe, other action may have to be taken.
will attack this problem by encouraging the patient to correct their lifestyle. This will
include such things as dietary changes to include more fibre, drinking plenty of filtered
water and exercising regularly.
Exercise at anything you enjoy doing as long as it is safe and gets your heart
working. Usually for about 20 - 30 minutes per day. However, if you have not exercised in
a while you may have to work up to this length of time.
Herbal Therapies -
can purchase potentially useful herbal remedies. Try small amounts to test the effect they
have on you or take them as recommended by a Professional.
valerian root with chickweed.
are specially prepared remedies that may assist you.
You should start with
increasing the amount of fibre in your diet and this is not difficult. Eat more raw fruits
and vegetables, especially peas, beans, and broccoli, bran cereals, whole-wheat bread, and
dried fruits such as raisins, figs, and prunes. These foods are rich in vitamins and
minerals as well! Avoid red meat, chicken, milk and cheese
Otherwise, try a fibre
supplement.. But remember to have lots of water with these.
Another way to treat
constipation is to drink a glass of warm water with the juice of a whole lemon in it after
waking up in the morning.
To Sum Up
Eat more fibre. Some good
sources are bran and other whole-grain cereals, raw or cooked dried fruits like raisins
and prunes, cooked dried beans, popcorn, and nuts.
Drink six to eight glasses
of filtered water daily, in addition to your regular beverages with meals.
Go to the toilet at the
same time every day (preferably after a meal) and take enough time to let your bowels move
fully. If you need to move your bowels at other times, don't stop yourself.
When to seek further
you have lower abdominal
pain when trying to pass stools
you have blood in your
your constipation develops
after you start a new prescription drug or take vitamin or mineral supplements you may
need to discontinue or change dosage.
you or your child has been
constipated for two weeks, with recurrent abdominal pain
you are elderly or disabled
and have been constipated for a week or more; you may have an impacted stool