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What Is Constipation?
Constipation is very common! It is characterized by a stool that is hard, dry or small, difficult to pass, and is often associated with a drop in your normal number of bowel movements.
How Many Bowel Movements are Normal?
This depends on you. For some people, 3 bowel movements a day are normal; for others, three times per week is normal. A drop is relative to your normal pattern.
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation can be caused by a variety of things. Occasional constipation is generally caused by a lack of fibre in your diet, not drinking enough fluids, not getting enough exercise, or excessive stress of common illness. All of these inhibit normal bowel activity and can cause irregular bowel habits. The risk of constipation may be increased by age, pregnancy, or certain illnesses. Also, certain prescription drugs may have a constipating effect.
Is Constipation Serious?
Generally, the answer is no. However, any change in bowel habits can be an indication of more serious bowel problems. If constipation persists or getting worse, if you notice blood or mucus in the stool, abdominal pain, or other associated symptoms, consult your physician.
How is Constipation Treated?
First, evaluate your diet. Ensuring a high level of fiber is important to maintain regularity. You should also try to eliminate some foods and beverages that can constipate you, like fatty foods or sweets. Second, ensure you are drinking 8 glasses of water or other fluids every day. Third, you should exercise regularly and maintain a healthy well-balanced lifestyle.
In addition, try to develop good bowel habits, get into a routine, and ensure you have plenty of quiet time to spend in the bathroom. If diet and lifestyle changes are not enough, try a natural source of bulk laxative, like Metamucil, Flax Seeds, or a stool softener.
How Will a Diet Change Help?
By increasing the fiber in your diet you will help providing bulk to your stool. This occurs because the fiber absorbs water and will not break down in the stomach. This will make the stool bulkier, softer, and easier to pass. Because fiber increases the bulk of your stools, some people may experience a short-term feeling of bloating or gas. However, this usually passes as your body becomes accustomed to increased fiber intake. If your stools become too frequent or loose, decrease the amount of fiber.
Are You Alone?
No, you are not alone. Over our lifetimes most of us will be constipated at one time or another
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