Constipation, Straining During A Bowel Movement
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Constipation, Straining During A Bowel Movement

You are considered constipated if you have straining during a bowel movement, hard stools more than 25% or the time, and two or fewer bowel movements in a week.

Constipation is one of those topics few like to talk about. If you've suffered from this problem, though, you know it can be painful and frustrating.

Almost everyone gets constipated at some time during his or her life. It affects approximately 2% of the population in the United States. Women and the elderly are more commonly affected. Though not usually serious, constipation can be a concern.

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; others, only one or two times a week. Going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass.

Constipation is usually caused by a disorder of bowel function rather than a structural problem. Common causes of constipation include:

  • Inadequate water intake.
  • Inadequate fiber in the diet.
  • A disruption or regular diet or routine; traveling.
  • Inadequate activity or exercise or immobility.
  • Stress.
  • Medicines (especially strong pain medicines, such as narcotics, antidepressant or iron pills).
  • Depression

Irritable bowel syndrome.

In some cases, lack of good nerve and muscle function in the bowel may also be a cause, this usually happens with the elderly.

There are several things you can do to prevent constipation. Among them:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran). Fiber and water help the colon pass stool.
  • Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids a day (unless fluid restricted for another medical condition). Liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and soft drinks, seem to have a dehydrating effect and may need to be avoided until your bowel habits return to normal. Some people may need to avoid milk, as dairy products may be constipating for them.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Move your bowels when you feel the urge.

Here are a few things that you may try if you are constipated, to help relieve your bowels:

  • Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day (unless fluid restricted diet per doctor)
  • Try warm liquids, especially in the morning.
  • Add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Eat or drink prune juice.
  • Eat bran cereal.
  • If needed, use a very mild stool softener or laxative (such as Peri-colace or Milk or Magnesia). Do not use laxatives for more than two weeks without calling your doctor, as laxative overuse can aggravate  your symptoms.

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Comments (1)

Good informative article.

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