Constipation is a common gastrointestinal complaint encountered in the primary care setting. It affects people of all ages, but it’s more common among older adults and postpartum women. Even though constipation can be extremely bothersome, it’s usually not serious. In fact, it usually resolves on its own, but you may have to seek treatment depending on the duration and severity.
What is Constipation?
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult and/or less frequent, i.e., 2 or fewer bowel movements in a given week. Other associated signs and symptoms may include abdominal pain, non-formed or lumpy stools, straining, taking a long time to go, or the sensation you can’t fully empty your colon.
Here’s a list of facts that may surprise you.
1. A High Fiber Diet Isn’t Always Foolproof
Increasing your fiber intake is one of many natural remedies for constipation, but it may not alleviate all your symptoms. Constipation may be caused by a variety of lesser-known factors, such as anxiety, alcohol, depression, eating disorders, medications, hormone imbalances, neurological conditions, pelvic muscle dysfunction, and stress. Thus, it’s important to determine the underlying cause for treatment to be effective.
2. You Don’t Need to Have a Bowel Movement Every Day
It’s totally normal not to have a bowel movement every day so stop comparing yourself to others. What’s considered normal for one person may not be normal for you.
3. Don’t Let the Urge Pass You By
Resisting or ignoring the need to poop by holding it in or waiting to go can increase your risk of developing constipation. It’s extremely important to maintain good bowel habits, because suppressing the urge to go can mess up the warning signals your body sends automatically.
4. One of Your Favorite Foods May Have to Go
You can relieve constipation naturally by avoiding certain foods known to slow digestion, i.e., chocolate, cheese, some dairy products, and processed foods.
5. Your Medications May Be to Blame
Several medications list constipation as the #1 side effect. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise your daily drug regimen may be a contributing factor. Some common offenders include antacids, narcotic pain medications, calcium or iron supplements, antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and antihistamines. Laxative abuse can also cause constipation because the intestines can become dependent on the drug to work properly.
6. Consider Taking a Probiotic
Probiotics are all the rage these days. It’s all about putting good bacteria back into the colon so it stays healthy and functions efficiently.
7. Traveling Can Be a Contributing Factor
Have you ever heard of traveler’s constipation? This condition arises due to the activity and dietary changes most people face when they travel. We’ve all experienced the joys of being cooped up in a car or plane for hours, and let’s face it, finding healthy eating options on vacation can be extremely difficult. Plus, a lot of people drink caffeinated beverages to stay alert when they travel, which can make matters worse.
8. Make Sure You Stay Hydrated and Exercise Regularly
Constipation is often related to inadequate water intake and dehydration. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and getting regular exercise are ideal natural remedies for constipation. Also avoid sugary drinks and caffeinated beverages as they tend to dehydrate you, which makes stools harder and more difficult to pass. At least 30-60 minutes of regular exercise 5 or more days per week will help keep things moving.
9. Many Common Foods Can Aid Digestion
Some foods can actually help ease constipation symptoms due to their fiber content and/or stimulant laxative effects, i.e., beans, coffee, fruits, vegetables, nuts, prunes, flaxseeds, psyllium, whole grains, and yogurt.
10. Don’t Worry About Toxins
Contrary to popular belief, constipation does not create a toxic environment within the colon that can cause certain cancers or diseases.
11. Lifestyle Changes Are Highly Recommended
Lifestyle modifications are one of the most commonly recommended treatment options given by healthcare providers for preventing and relieving constipation. These natural constipation relief remedies usually include increasing your physical activity, drinking more water, and consuming the recommended amount of fiber through your diet or fiber supplementation. Evidenced-based homeopathic self-care protocols can offer additional insight.
12. Some Symptoms May Surprise You
Constipation can be linked to an array of what appears to be unrelated symptoms. For instance, back pain, nausea, vomiting, fecal impaction (i.e., the build-up of stool within the intestines that cannot be evacuated), and stools that look like rounds pellets can be associated with severe constipation. Additional signs and symptoms include rectal bleeding due to hemorrhoids or anal fissures (small tears that occur around the opening of the rectum) and rectal prolapse, which occurs when a portion of the colon protrudes from the anus.
Constipation can be a tricky symptom to overcome for some people. Whether you need to see a healthcare specialist or you want to learn how to treat your constipation symptoms naturally,you should know there are several options available to you. It’s important to find the best one that meets your individual needs.
The Alternative DrMCare Natural Medical Self-Care Protocols are designed to help you and your family to care for yourself, naturally, effectively and holistically. Sign up today for further information.