No. 2- Try Harder, Especially if you Have Constipation

Few of us like or are comfortable talking about our problems with urination or with bowel movements.  However, when these functions go awry, all havoc takes place. Though not usually serious, constipation can be a concern.  This article will discuss constipation and what can be done to resolve the issue. 

Almost everyone gets constipated at some time during his or her life. It affects approximately 2% of the population and the elderly are more commonly affected.

What Is Constipation?

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. The longer the interval between bowel movements, the harder the stool becomes and the more difficult to pass.

You are considered constipated if you have two or fewer bowel movements in a week.

 What Causes Constipation?

Constipation is usually caused by inadequate water intake. Inadequate fiber in the diet. inadequate activity or exercise or immobility, eating large amounts of dairy products, resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, which is sometimes the result of pain from hemorrhoids, overuse of laxatives or stool softeners.

How Is Constipation Diagnosed?

Most people do not need extensive testing to diagnose constipation. Only a small number of patients with constipation have a more serious medical problem. If you have constipation for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor so he or she can determine the source of your problem and treat it. If constipation is caused by colon cancer, early detection and treatment

How Can I Prevent Constipation?

Fiber and water help the colon pass stool.  Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran).   Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water each day. Avoid milk, as dairy products may be constipating for them.  Moving around and exercise tends to promote bowel regularity. 

Treatment

If you are constipated, try the following:  Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day (unless fluid restricted).  Add fruits and vegetables and fiber to your diet.  If needed, use a very mild stool softener or laxative (such as Peri-Colace or Milk of Magnesia). Do not use laxatives for more than two weeks without calling your doctor, as laxative overuse can aggravate your symptoms.

Call your doctor if:  You have blood in your stool; you have severe pain with bowel movements; or your constipation has lasted more than two weeks.

 Bottom Line: Constipation is a common problem.  Most people can prevent constipation with diet and moderate exercise.

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