What causes constipation and what are its symptoms?

Constipation refers to the passing of hard, dry stools. This condition can be caused by a number of factors, the most common including:

  • Poor diet
  • Change in routine
  • Inadequate amount of fibre in your daily diet
  • Insufficient fluids
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diseases in the digestive system
  • As a side effect of certain medicines

Common symptoms include:

  • Passing bowels less than often
  • Straining to pass motion
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Abdominal cramps

If this condition is particularly severe, symptoms could include:

  • Blood in stools
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling weak

When should you see a doctor regarding constipation?

If your symptoms are particularly severe, it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately.

How is constipation tested and treated?

Based on your age and symptoms, your doctor might recommend certain tests. While there is a chance you may not need to undergo any of these, they include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • X-rays
  • Manometry studies - test to measure the pressure inside the rectum

How can constipation be treated?

This condition is treated based on what’s causing your symptoms in the first place.

Here, your doctor may recommend that you eat more fibre and drink more water. He may also prescribe medicine, changing any medicine you might be taking for other conditions, an enema (where bowel movements will be softened and broken up through the use of an external tool), or through a biofeedback. Here, you will be shown a technique to help your muscles relax for easier bowel movements.

If you don’t feel your conditions are severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor, alleviate your symptoms through the consumption of food with plenty of fibre. These include vegetables, fruits, and cereals. Make it a habit to drink plenty of water and other fluids as well.

If you need to go to the bathroom, do not hold it in. Make sure you use the bathroom regularly.

You can also take laxatives to help make bowel movements much easier.

What are the signs of a blocked bowel? 

What are the best food items for relieving constipation? 

When is constipation a cause for concern? 

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