Constipation can be defined as, having a bowel movement lesser than three times a week. In constipation stools usually become hard, dry, small in size, and difficult or painful to eliminate. Some people who suffer constipation often experience straining, bloating, and the sensation of a full bowel.
Some people assume to be constipated, if they don’t pass stool every day. However, normal stool elimination may vary from three times a day or three times a week, depending on the person’s eating habit.
Constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Almost every one of us experiences constipation, at several points in their life, mainly due to poor diet. Most constipation is temporary and not serious, in few cases it may turned into chronic constipation.
Causes of constipation
So many health articles has already been published about constipation – causes and cure, to understand the phenomenon of constipation, it’s important to know the role of colon or large intestine. As food pass through the large intestine, the colon, absorbs water and minerals from the food while it forms waste products, or stool. Contractions of colon muscle then push the stool toward rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum it is solid, because most of the water has been absorbed.
Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs excessive water or if the rhythmic movements of colon get disturbed, causing the stool to move through the colon too slowly. This results in dry as well as hardness of the stool. Common causes of constipation are
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- No physical activity (especially in the elderly)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Changes in life or routine such as pregnancy, aging, and travel
- Problems with intestinal function (chronic idiopathic constipation)
Preventions and treatment
A diet containing enough fiber (20 to 35 grams each day) prevent constipation. High-fiber foods include beans, whole grains and bran cereals, fresh fruits, and vegetables such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrots. For people prone to constipation, limiting foods that have little or no fiber, such as ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods, is also important.
Lifestyle changes may prevent constipation, include drinking enough water and other liquids, such as fruit juices and clear soups, to keep you hydrated, daily exercise, and enough time to have a bowel movement.
People who have mild constipation do not need laxatives. However, for those who have already made diet and lifestyle changes but useless, a doctor may recommend laxatives or enemas for a short time. These treatments can help retrain a chronically sluggish bowel.