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Constipation is a condition that happens when bowel movements become less often making it difficult for the stool to pass. An individual experiencing constipation may pass stool fewer than three times a week. The most frequent causes are dietary or routine changes, a lack of appropriate fiber intake, or both.

Symptoms of Constipation

Everyone’s bowel habits are different. While some people visit the restroom three times a day, others only do so once a week. However, one could be constipated if he/she encounters any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Fewer than three bowel movements a week
  • A feeling of fullness, even after having a bowel movement
  • Individual passing lumpy, hard, or dry stools
  • Blood in the stool

Healthcare providers recommend seeking medical attention if the symptoms don’t go away or if one notices the following:

  • Vomiting
  • A feeling of gas trapped
  • Weight loss that was not intended
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Fever
  • Sudden change in bowel movements
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Pain in the lower back

Causes of Constipation

  • Travel or other changes in routine
  • Drugs, such as certain antacids, painkillers, diuretics, and some disease therapies
  • Dehydration
  • Low exercise levels
  • Pregnancy
  • Older age
  • Low-fiber diet

The following are some underlying medical conditions that may bring constipation:

  • Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes
  • Colon or rectum issues, such as IBS, or intestinal obstruction
  • Hormonal issues, such as an underactive thyroid gland
  • Abuse of laxatives.

Treatment of Constipation

Increasing physical activity levels and changing diet are the easiest and fastest options in the treatment of constipation.

The following techniques are also used in the treatment and relief of constipation:

  • One should limit the consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, which often cause dehydration.
  • Adding fiber-rich foods to your diet. For instance, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.
  • Reduce your intake of processed foods, milk, cheese, and other low-fiber meals like meat.
  • Do not wait to relieve yourself of the need for bowel movement. Your stool may get harder the longer you wait.
  • When having a bowel movement, raise your knees by placing your feet on a footstool.
  • With a target of 30 minutes per day, five days a week at least, aim for roughly 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You can consider biking, swimming, or walking.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to use the restroom and make an effort to calm your muscles.

Over-the-counter Medication for Constipation

Over-the-counter laxatives may be suggested by a healthcare professional if home therapies are unsuccessful. These may include:

  • Stool softeners
  • Stimulants
  • Fiber supplements
  • Osmotic agents like milk of magnesia
  • lubricants like mineral oil

How to Prevent Constipation

To prevent constipation, one should try the following:

  • Consume a lot of fresh produce, whole grains, and fruits
  • Consume high-fiber foods and inquire with a doctor about taking fiber supplements
  • Add bran cereal or prunes to your diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they can cause dehydration
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