Constipation is defined as difficult, irregular or infrequent bowel movements. This is something that everyone has experienced and, while it is quite normal, it is something that should not be taken lightly, especially if it happens often. The normal prevalence of bowel movements varies by individual. Some may go to the bathroom a couple of times a day while others only do so twice a week. However, going more than two or three days without a bowel movement is too long. The stool will harden after two days which makes it harder to pass. So how do you determine if you are suffering from constipation?
Symptoms of Constipation
Constipation is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Less frequent bowel movements than normal
- Straining during bowel movements
- Stool that is hard and small
- Feeling that you were not able to get everything out
- Abdominal pain and bloating
If you are experiencing at least two of these symptoms then it is likely you are suffering from constipation.
So, how did you become constipated? There are several causes such as a change in your usual diet or maybe eating a lot of dairy products. It may also be caused by several health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, eating disorders and taking medicines that contain high doses of calcium and aluminum. Stress can also have an effect. Other causes also include inactivity, being dehydrated, lack of fiber intake, resisting bowel movement (which could also lead to hemorrhoids), muscle and nerve problems in the digestive system and pregnancy.
What are the steps that you can take in order to help alleviate constipation? There are several home based remedies you can try which have all proven effective:
- Keep well hydrated. Do this by drinking four more glasses of water each day. The only time you should avoid this is if instructed by your doctor. There are times when treating constipation means that you should limit fluid intake. Just to be sure, consult with your doctor first and foremost if you are experiencing constipation.
- Drink warm liquids in the morning.
- Develop a healthy diet that includes fibrous fruits and vegetables.
- Include bran cereals and prunes in your daily diet. These are two of the most effective foods to help in relieving constipation.
- You can also try over the counter stool softeners or laxatives. Keep in mind that laxatives should never be used for more than two weeks. If constipation persists then contact your doctor at once.
How to Avoid Constipation
Avoiding constipation is all about eating a healthy and proper diet. Eat a well-balanced diet daily and don't forget to exercise. Include the proper amount of fiber (25 grams per day) in your diet as well. And of course, whenever you feel you need to go to the bathroom go to it, do not suppress it. You can also take supplements that will help you.