I Am Suffering From Constipation! How Do I Fix The Issue?
Constipation can happen to anybody. It is typically diagnosed when there are reduced bowel movements of less than three times a week or the presence of hard stools that require straining to clear them.
Constipation is a noticeable condition, especially when there is an immediate physical change in bowel movements. If not, the appearance of specific symptoms, such as abdominal discomfort or pain, as well as bloating, usually are tell-tale signs of constipation.
Is constipation serious?
It all depends on what caused the constipation. If you are less than the age of 45, then the chances of developing something severe, such as colon cancer, are lower. If you have not had any bowel movements for a couple of days and start to have abdominal pain and distention, then you might want to have it checked out by a gastroenterologist, as your constipation might be caused by intestinal obstruction, which can get severe.
What are the common causes of constipation?
Most individuals would have “constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome” or “functional constipation” that occurs without any particular cause. Usually, such chronic constipation occurs when digested food takes a longer time to move through the small and large intestine and can be associated with diet as well as with anxiety or depression.
Other chronic constipation may also be caused by inadequate water and fibre intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and extreme environmental changes. Also, if you suffer from diabetes mellitus for a long time, then it also affects the nerves controlling your bowel movements (autonomic neuropathy).
Hormonal imbalance caused by hypothyroidism can also result in chronic constipation. When seeing the doctor for medical advice, be sure to inform your doctor of any medications you have been taking as some of them may cause constipation, such as aluminium-based antacids, certain cough mixtures, and anti-diarrhoea medicines, such as Lomotil or Imodium.
When does chronic constipation become severe?
If you are above the age of 45, your risk of constipation being caused by colon cancer increases. Some signs that you should look out for that signifies the severity of your constipation are anaemia, family history of colon cancer, abdominal mass, sudden loss of weight and appetite, bloody stool, severe abdominal pain, and change in stool calibre, such as thin and narrow stools.
Is it necessary to visit a gastroenterologist?
Approximately 80 percent of Singaporeans experience constipation at some point in their lives. In fact, there is no definite bowel movement frequency regarded as normal. It all boils down to whether it causes discomfort. The widespread belief that constipation leads to a build-up of toxins in our body has led to many individuals abusing and overusing laxatives.
The thing is that if you are young and healthy and suffer from occasional constipation, laxatives might be a good starting point to provide relief when it starts to get uncomfortable. They are usually available over the counter. However, if you are older and are suffering from other medical conditions, then it might be advised to conduct a gastroenterology visit to have it evaluated.
General practitioners are usually more than sufficient to diagnose your constipation. However, if they are concerned about the presence of something more severe, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist who might conduct further tests, such as blood tests, colonoscopy, and abdominal x-ray.
How to treat constipation?
Most patients suffering from constipation can be treated effectively with a couple of straightforward steps. Ensuring they have a daily, regular, well-balanced diet is a lifestyle change that promotes healthy bowel movements.
It can include consuming more fibre or drinking more fluids to keep the stools soft. It is best to drink up to 10 glasses of fluids, be it water, soup, tea, coffee, milk, or juice. Being active for most of the day also helps to boost bowel movement.
Stimulant laxatives can be employed if lifestyle changes are not effective. However, long-term use of laxatives can result in the colon overstretching and weakening. While they provide instant relief, they harm the body if used excessively. Hence, they are usually the last resort.
Constipation is a common problem that can happen to anybody. As such, it is usually not a cause for concern. However, if you develop prolonged symptoms and discomfort orpain, weight loss or blood in the stool, please see your doctor to have it evaluated and managed.
Here at GUTCARE, we take care of your digestive health. Our team of gastroenterologist take care of all sorts of gut-related condition, from constipation to fatty liver symptoms. Never hesitate when it comes to your gut health. Take charge of it.
Click here to make an appointment with us today!