Constipation is an issue that affects 1 in 10 kids and 1 in 5 adults living in Australia. More than half of people with IBS will also experience constipation. It is an issue that is straining almost 25% of the country yet no one likes to talk about it! Lets get to the nitty gritty.
Are you constipated?
The main symptoms leading to a diagnosis of constipation include:
- Opening bowels less than 3 times per week
- Needing to strain to open bowels on more than a quarter of these trips
- Passing a hard or pellet like stool on more than a quarter of these occasions
- Experiencing a sense of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement
- Abdominal pain or bloating (common in people with IBS)
The body is a complex thing and can be highly affected by our surroundings, our feelings and what we eat. These factors can all impact on how food is digested and then expelled. Below are some common causes of constipation in the population.
The connection between the gut and brain is strong and feeling upset or stressed can often slow your bowels down or speed them up, depending on how your body responds.
Drugs or medicines
Many drugs, particularly pain killers have constipation as a side effect. This is because the medications bind to receptors in the stomach stopping the pain but also the whole digestive process.
Ignoring the natural urge
‘Holding on’ can actually result in changes to how your bowel muscles work and the pattern of your bowel movements.
That time of the month
Many ladies experience changed bowel habits leading up to and during their period.
Sitting down for long periods
Ever been on a long car ride or plane trip and felt a bit blocked up? Staying in a sitting position for long periods of time kinks your colon preventing stools from passing through and causing constipation.
Not eating enough fibre
While this is something we get told constantly it is one of THE MOST important aspects of staying regular. Fibre is the undigestible part of the food which means it HAS to come out the other end. This also means that it will add bulk to stools and one type of fibre absorbs water allowing the stool to ‘slip’ out.
Not drinking enough water
Fluids are essential in the prevention and treatment of constipation as they stop the colon drawing too much water from the stool, making it dry and hard.
IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
Although many people associate IBS with diarrhoea, constipation is actually a reality for many sufferers. Research on this area hasn’t come to strong conclusions on why some people are one or the other or often a mix of both, however a possible cause is weak or slow bowel contractions.
If you know the cause of your constipation then you can manage it accordingly! Better yet – you can prevent it. Look out for upcoming articles which will give some great tips on how to specifically manage these causes of constipation.
By: Sarah Gulliver
Image sourced from Pinterest.
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing 2016, ‘Bowel problems – Constipation’, https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/enablers/caps-bladder-and-bowel-health/40001