Constipation Awareness Month is a global healthcare event observed annually throughout December. Constipation is a condition where bowel movements become infrequent or difficult to pass, with reduced bowel movements of fewer than three times a week, often resulting in hard and dry stools.
A recent survey in India found that almost 22% of the adult population experiences constipation . Constipation is more common in the elderly than in younger populations, with elderly women suffering from severe constipation more than two to three times more than males.
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Symptoms Of Constipation
Being constipated may include any one of the following symptoms:
-Bowel movements fewer than three times a week
-Painful bowel movements
-Passing hard and lumpy stools
-A feeling of fullness, even after passing stools
-Feeling bloated or uncomfortable
5 Daily Habits That Can Trigger Constipation With Solutions
1. Insufficient Fiber and Fluid Intake
A diet too low in fiber and fluids and too high in fats can contribute to constipation. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. According to the World Health Organization, adults should consume 25 grams of fiber daily .
-Add a balance of fruits, oats, vegetables, wheat bran, and whole grains to the diet to improve colon mobility and bulk.
-Limit the consumption of processed foods that are high in fat.
2. Disturbed Bathroom Routine
Ignoring the urge to pass stools or neglecting bathroom routines can affect bowel regularity. Individuals who repeatedly ignore the urge to move their bowels may eventually stop feeling the urge.
-Try to have a bowel movement at the same time every day.
-Visit the bathroom regularly, especially after meals, and avoid holding in the urge when nature calls
-Make sure to give yourself plenty of time so that you don’t feel rushed
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3. Lack of Physical Activity
Lack of physical activity, especially exercise, can cause natural muscle contractions in the intestines, enhancing digestion and accelerating food movement.
-Brisk walking for even 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times a day, can help the digestive system to work at its best.
-Incorporate short breaks, desk exercises, and stretches into your work routine for regular bowel movements.
4. Certain Medicines and Conditions
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs like iron supplements, narcotics, antidepressants, antispasmodics, and antacids can lead to constipation. Individuals with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may have sluggish bowel movements, abdominal discomfort, and straining during bowel movements.
-Discuss with the doctor for substitutes or what could be done to manage constipation
-Look out for probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, paneer, and apples with lactobacillus strains to ease any mild gastric upsets
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5. Overuse Of Laxatives
Laxatives can help with constipation every once in a while. But when used frequently, like for weeks or months, laxatives can decrease the colon’s ability to contract and worsen constipation.
-Drink plenty of water and enough fiber to eliminate the use of laxatives.
-Try some natural and herbal remedies to avoid overuse of laxatives.
As you navigate your daily routines, exercise extra caution to promote a healthy digestive system. If you still encounter persistent constipation despite your efforts, seeking timely assistance is a proactive step toward maintaining your health.
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1. Nebhinani, Mamta & Saini, Sushma. Prevalence of Constipation Among the General Population A Community-Based Survey From India. Gastroenterology nursing : the official journal of the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.[ Updated 2014].
2. General_Population_A_Community-Based_Survey_From_India Schuster BG, Kosar L, Kamrul R. Constipation in older adults: stepwise approach to keep things moving. National Library Of Medicine. [Updated 2015].
Available From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325863/
3. WHO updates guidelines on fats and carbohydrates. World Health Organization. [Updated 2023].
Available From: https://www.who.int/news/item/17-07-2023-who-updates-guidelines-on-fats-and-carbohydrates#:~:text=Fat%20consumed%20by%20everyone%202,produced%20and%20ruminant%20animal%20sources.
4. Concerned About Constipation? National Institute Of Aging. [Updated 2022].
Available From: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/constipation/concerned-about-constipation#:~:text=Water%20and%20other%20fluids%20help,following%20surgery%20may%20cause%20constipation.