Constipation is a common digestive ailment in which an individual has less than 3 bowel movements in a week. The bowel movements can be hard and oftentimes appear as small-sized pebbles.
It is important to note that the normal bowel movement vary for every individual. Constipation that lasts for 12 weeks or longer, even in an “on and off” manner is categorized as a chronic type.
What are the possible causes?
Some of the usual causes of constipation include:
- Waiting too long before using the bathroom after an urge is felt
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- Lack of exercise
- Poor intake of fluids
- Overusing some forms of laxatives
- Using medications with constipation as a side effect such as antidepressants, iron pills or narcotic pain medications
What are the indications?
- Small, solid or dry bowel movements
- Painful or uncomfortable bowel movements that are difficult to pass
- Sensation of having a full bowel
- Longer time than normal between bowel movements
Management of constipation
In most cases, there is no need to consult a doctor for treatment. Some of the measures that can relieve constipation include:
- Add more fiber to the diet especially whole-grain bread and cereals, bran muffins, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as brown rice.
- Regular exercise
- Increased intake of fluids daily to keep the urine light yellow in appearance
- Always use the bathroom once there is an urge.
If the self-care measures fail to work, the doctor might suggest a stool softener or laxative to promote easier bowel movements.