How To Prevent And Manage Chronic Constipation
Constipation can be defined as infrequent bowel movements that are difficult to pass. It is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While some cases may resolve independently, it's essential to manage the problem to prevent it from worsening. Here we will discuss constipation, the causes of constipation, symptoms of constipation, and how you can prevent and manage it through lifestyle changes.
Several factors can cause constipation. The most common reasons include:
- Lack of physical activity and exercise, which can make it difficult for your body to move food through the bowels,
- Eating a low-fibre diet that is high in processed foods, such as pastries or white bread instead of whole grains;
- Drinking too little water throughout the day – this includes not drinking enough before you go to bed at night;
- Not getting enough sleep – studies suggest people who don't get adequate shut-eye may be more likely to experience constipation than those who do. Being awake longer exposes you to situations where proper bowel function becomes harder (e.g., sitting in an aeroplane)
- Another cause is not using the bathroom when you have a bowel movement. This can lead to constipation, haemorrhoids, and other more severe conditions such as colorectal cancer, diverticulitis (a disease that affects the colon), or faecal impaction (when stool gets stuck in your rectum).
Symptoms Of Constipation
If you experience any of these symptoms occasionally, they may be temporary and nothing to worry about. However, if you start experiencing them frequently, it is time for action.
- Constipation that lasts for two weeks or longer;
- Rectal bleeding
- A change in how often you go to the bathroom, including going less than three times per week,
- Also, having diarrhoea with blood loss
Tips To Managing Constipation
Despite constipation being a very painfully unpleasant condition, it can be easily prevented and treated.
- The most important step to avoiding constipation is drinking an ample amount of water throughout the day. Aim for 12 glasses a day or more if possible.
- Also, make sure you are getting enough fibre in your diet by eating fruit, vegetables, nuts, etc. If necessary, increase dietary intake with supplements without exceeding 20-25 grams per day, as too much fibre may cause constipation.
- It might also help reduce the amount of fat you consume daily, including foods rich in animal fat, such as meats and cheese. It will contribute to weight loss, but you will feel less bloated, which could impact regularity, especially during bowel movement times.
- Exercise regularly. Get your body moving and try to incorporate it into a daily routine. If you feel bloated, move around the intestines for food/waste to quickly pass through.
Being a disorder in the gastrointestinal tracts, proper management of constipation needs to be maintained. Else, it can lead to the closure of the intestine, which will require surgery. While constipation affects all categories of individuals, it is quite prevalent in the elderly population.