Are you lately having problems with defecation? Normally, you have been having 3 to 4 bowel movements in a day but only once or none at all for a few days or week? You should be really concerned as there are several causes for constipation and some of them will require intervention from doctors.
There are no exact definitions for the amount of bowel movements you should be having in a day, but if you ever notice changes in your bowel habit and your stool, then you should be concerned about your health. Typically, people with constipation have dark, small and hard stools accompanied with painful defecation.
Here we will discuss some common causes of constipation and how do you get rid of them?
Causes of constipation
- Unhealthy diet – People who consume less fibres such as vegetables and fruits often complain of constipation. Fibre helps to soften your stool and ease the passage to be cleared out.
- Inadequate hydration – Drinking less water causes your intestines to absorb more from the stool, leaving them hard and dark.
- Lack of physical exercise – Not moving much and spending long periods of time lying on bed can also lead to constipation.
- Ignoring defecation urge – Sometimes we tend to ignore the urge to go to the toilet because of our busy schedule at work and school.
- Side effects of medication – Medication like opioids and NSAIDS possess some side effects on bowel movements.
- Pregnancy – Constipation is common during pregnancy and in the postpartum period especially the 6 weeks after giving birth.
How to get rid of constipation?
- Take more fiber in your diet. Good sources of fiber include breads, vegetables, brown rice, beans and fresh or dried fruits. Fiber helps to soften your food and ease the passage of bowel movements to prevent constipation.
- Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of plain water in a day. Water is an essential element to keep your stool soft and moist all the time.
- Exercise regularly. Simple physical activity like walking, jogging or cycling helps move your bowel and make those muscles relaxed to push your stool out easily.
- Avoid certain medications. Painkillers are common drugs that cause constipation as a side effect. Try to avoid taking painkillers unnecessarily without indication. If it is inevitable, do consult your doctor for a change in medication.
- Adjust your posture during defecation. Improper posture in your toilet can also lead to constipation as some muscles around your rectum tends to be tense during defecation. Try changing your posture and notice the changes
- Having an imbalance of good bacterias in your gut can also lead to constipation. Supplements of juices containing probiotics like bananas, yogurt and fermented food may help to correct the imbalance.
- Laxatives. Laxatives are often kept as a last resort after trying these simple methods as above. There are few laxatives that your doctor might prescribe for your condition. For instance, there are lubricant laxatives, osmotic laxatives, and stimulant laxatives. However, laxatives often cause diarrhea as a side effect.
When you should be really worried?
- Long standing constipation with a strong family history of malignancy. Having blood in your stool and alternating bowel habit are some of the symptoms with loss of weight and appetite. Immediately visit a doctor to get your screening done.
- Hemorrhoids or fissures. Straining too hard to defecate can often lead to formation of hemorrhoids or tears around your anal skin called skin fissures.
- Rectal prolapse. Straining too hard in your toilet can sometimes push your organs out and this condition is called as rectal prolapse and will be requiring surgical intervention later.