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Constipation

Constipation, irregular and hard bowel movements, is a common frustrating and sometimes painful condition of the digestive system, where an individual has hard faeces that are difficult to expel. Constipation is a symptom; not a disease and is often defined as having a bowel movement less than 3 times a week. If you do not have a bowel movement every day, it does not mean that you are constipated. Some people have normal bowel movements 3 times a day or sometimes even 3 times a week.

If a person is constipated, stools are usually dry, hard, small in size and extremely difficult to eliminate. Associated symptoms such as infrequent bowel movements strained bowel movements, abdominal bloating, flatulence, feeling of incomplete evacuation, tummy pain associated with bowel movements, and having to sit on the toilet for much longer than usual may be present. The main reason for constipation is having less fiber in our diet.

The other common causes of constipation are:

  • Physical inactivity
  • Low fluid intake
  • Changes in your life or daily routine such as travelling
  • Changes in diet, to a more refined, easily digested fast-food
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Side effect from certain medications
  • Advanced stages of pregnancy
  • Dehydration
  • Postponing a bowel movement when the urge arises
  • Too much calcium in the blood.
  • Consumption of large amounts of milk or milk products

Constipation is often preventable and there are many natural and medical constipation relief remedies available that can help improve bowel function if you’re already suffering. Mostly, you need to change the way you eat and start exercising for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

Eat foods that contain plenty of Fibre:
Fibre is important in providing natural constipation relief. You should eat as much fibre as you can. It helps in forming a soft and bulky stool and stimulates bowel movements. Good sources of fibre are most fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, beans, spinach, berries, grapes, strawberries, cherries, apples and cereals like oatmeal & nuts.

Exercise:
A physically active person has better circulation and muscle strength to aid the digestive system performs the functions of excretion more efficiently.

Keep well hydrated:
Fluids are necessary for the body to regulate the body temperature, remove body wastes and facilitate biological reactions in the body as well as maintaining free and regular bowel movements. You can make it a habit to drink water early in the morning when you wake up to prevent constipation.

If you are suffering from recurring constipation, it would be best to seek medical advice, as it may be a symptom of a more systemic problem. The doctor after careful examination and evaluation may prescribe a laxative or some form of fibre to cure and prevent it.

Written by Medplus