Even though constipation is an embarrassing subject, in which many refuse to talk about, this condition affects everyone at some point. In fact, some people live with chronic constipation. This is classified by persistent difficultly with passing stools. Many factors contribute to constipation. In some instances, the reasons are clear-cut and easily resolved by making certain dietary adjustments. For example, people with poor eating habits are more prone to constipation as opposed to a person who eats a healthy portion of fruits and vegetables. Of course, too much of a good thing can also cause problems. For this matter, consuming too much fiber may also cause constipation.
What is Constipation?
The definition of constipation varies from person-to-person. Our bodies function differently. Thus, our ideas of “normal” may slightly differ. For example, some people habitually pass three or more stools a day. In their minds, anything less equals constipation. On the other hand, some people only have about three bowel movements a week, which is completely normal for their bodies.
Not being able to pass a stool on a daily basis does amount to constipation. Instead, constipation results when stools do not pass easily. In this case, straining is common, and stools are usually hard and dry. Common symptoms of constipation include:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Abdominal cramping or pain
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Bloody stools
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Anal fissures
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Abdominal bloating
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Pelvic Pain
Symptoms typically disappear once constipation is relieved. However, if symptoms or constipation persists for more than a week, consult a doctor.
Several factors contribute to constipation. Fortunately, constipation is preventable. Common causes of constipation include
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Poor diet
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Ignoring urges to pass stools
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Abusing laxatives
Tips for Preventing Constipation
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Increase fiber intake (consider fiber dietary supplements)
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Avoid fatty foods
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Avoid sugary foods
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Drink eight glasses of water daily
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Never delay bowel movements
When to Seek Medical Attention
Constipation is rarely a serious condition and bowel movements usually return to normal within a few days. Because constipation could be a warning sign of a more serious gastrointestinal or stomach illness, recurring or chronic constipation should be evaluated by a physician. In most instances, chronic constipation is due to a condition called irritable bowel syndrome. Still, a doctor should rule out all possible reasons, including Crohn’s disease, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, etc.
Other reasons to seek medical attention include:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Heavy rectal bleeding
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Severe abdominal cramping or pain
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Stools become very narrow
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Inability to have a bowel movement