What constitutes constipation or being constipated is defined primarily at the personal level. For some people, constipation can mean infrequent bowel movements. While for others, constipation can be defined as the stools themselves being hard or having to strain in order to pass them.
The causes of two types mentioned above are quite possibly different, as would be the approaches to provide relief.
For most people the frequency of bowel movements will normally decline with age. And what once seemed ‘normal’ a few years ago won’t be ‘normal’ today for the same person. In fact, most people that are regular don’t have a daily bowel movement or the same number each day.
Occasional constipation is not a serious medical concern particularly when the bowel movements provide relief from the bloating, or minor stomach pain. However, chronic constipation should be a whole other matter for you.
If the type of constipation is that you constantly have to strain in order to push the stool out, you should have these symptoms more closely evaluated and if necessary begin some type of doctor recommended treatment. If initial treatments recommended by your primary care physician do not alleviate your symptoms, you may wish to go ahead and ask for a referral to a gastroenterologist.
A bowel movement every day is not the desired outcome when attempting to treat the symptoms of constipation, rather a bowel movement about every two to three days (without difficulty or having to strain).
Start with the basics first such as going when you have to go. Don’t put off the urge to defecate… find a toilet. Also, if you are taking any other over the counter or prescription medications, have a talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Certain drugs can contribute to the problem, so you may want to see if they can be discontinued or at least changed.
Most people are aware of the importance of fiber in their diet when it comes to regularity. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are readily available and provide a good source for fiber. It may be difficult to increase the level of fiber your body needs; if so, don’t hesitate to take a fiber supplement. Do this by gradually increasing the amounts of fiber until you begin to achieve the desired result. Keep in mind that the effect of taking fiber won’t happen overnight. You’ll want to allow a week or more to truly evaluate your increased fiber program.
Stimulant type of laxities should not be used or only as a last resort because of the risk of permanent damage to the colon; and note that many herbal laxatives contain these stimulant type laxatives.
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