Constipation is one of those unpleasant things most of us experience at least once in our lifetime. Unfortunately, for some people, constipation becomes a chronic condition and can cause significant pain and discomfort. If you are a chronic constipation sufferer, you may feel concerned about your symptoms and side effects. If so, you have come to the right place because in this article we share some tips, tricks and medical advice to help you deal with your constipation.
What is constipation?
Constipation is when you find it difficult to poo or find yourself going to the toilet significantly less than normal. Many people experience constipation at some point, it is a common condition and can affect people of all ages. More often than not, it can be treated with simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. It is likely to be constipation if:
- You find yourself straining when you pass a bowel movement
- The poo is dry, hard or lumpy.
- You have not had a poo at least 3 times in the last week
- Stomach ache, bloating and sickness
What causes constipation?
There can be a number of causes behind constipation, and what can be frustrating is that sometimes there may not be an obvious reason. The most common causes of constipation include:
- Lack of fibre in diet
- Not being hydrated enough
- Not moving enough, being inactive
- Ignoring urge to go to the toilet
- A side effect of medication
- Stress, anxiety or depression
In rare cases, constipation can be caused by a medical condition.
Treatments and preventative methods
There are some small changes to your diet and lifestyle that can help to treat and prevent constipation. These simple changes include making changes to your diet, improving your toilet routine and increasing your activity.
If these lifestyle changes don’t appear to be relieving your constipation symptoms, the next step is to speak to a pharmacist who can recommend you a suitable laxative. Laxatives should work within 3 days and should only be used for a short time. If they too do not appear to improve your condition, it might be worth booking a doctor’s appointment.
Still concerned about constipation?
If you have tried various treatments and nothing seems to be working, it may be time to get in touch with a constipation specialist. Colorectal surgeon Mr Andrew Clarke specialises in a number of bowel related medical conditions including constipation. He will be able to offer you expert medical advice and could even provide you with a more effective treatment. It recommended that you see a doctor if you:
- Are not getting any better with treatment
- Feel regularly constipated for long periods of time
- Are bloated
- Have blood in your poo
- Lost weight without trying
- Feel lethargic regularly
Risks of leaving it untreated
Whilst we want to alleviate your concerns regarding constipation, it is important to know the complications involved with long-term constipation. It can lead to faecal impaction which is where poo has built up in the last part of the large intestine- the rectum. Once this occurs, the body cannot remove the faeces from the body through the normal process making it impossible to excrete waste from the body.
Untreated faecal impaction could have serious, life-threatening complications, including: A hole in your colon (bowel perforation). Bleeding (haemorrhage). Uncontrollable bowel movements (faecal incontinence). Fortunately, it can be treated with:
- Stronger prescribed laxatives
- A suppository
- A mini enima
- A healthcare professional removing some of the poo