Constipation is considered as a common condition that affects individuals of all ages. It simply means that the individual is not passing out stools regularly or unable to completely empty the bowel.
It is important to note that constipation can also cause the stools to become lumpy and hard as well as unusually small or large. The severity of constipation varies from one individual to another. Many usually experience constipation for a brief time while others can suffer on a long-term basis which triggers significant discomfort and pain as well as affecting the quality of life.
What are the potential causes of constipation?
It can be difficult to pinpoint the precise cause of constipation. On the other hand, there are various factors that can contribute to the condition such as the following:
- Change in lifestyle or routine such as dietary habits
- Lack of fiber in the diet such as cereals, fruits and vegetables
- Ignoring the urge to pass out stools or delaying bowel movement
- Not drinking enough fluids or when dehydration is present
- Side effects of certain medications
- Anxiety or depression
Among children, fear of using the toilet, poor diet and toilet training problems can lead to constipation.
Who are at risk for constipation?
Always bear in mind that constipation can occur infants, children and adults. Constipation affects twice as many women as men and quite common among older adults and during pregnancy.
When to consult a doctor
The constipation can be managed by making simple modifications to the diet and lifestyle. In case these changes do not help and the condition persists, a doctor should be consulted.
A doctor should be consulted if a child is suspected with constipation. Remember that children will have a hard time during bowel movement. Due to this, a doctor must be consulted so that treatment can be given.
Management of constipation
In most cases, lifestyle and dietary changes are recommended as the initial treatment for constipation. These gradually include an increase in the daily intake of fiber, drinking plenty of fluids and exercising regularly.
If these are not effective, the doctor might prescribe an oral laxative that can help empty the bowels. The treatment for constipation is effective but some cases can take several months before the regular bowel pattern is restored.
Changes in the lifestyle and diet can help minimize the risk for developing constipation in the first place. It is also beneficial to allow enough time and privacy to pass out stools comfortably and do not ignore the urge to go to the toilet.
Among those who have constipation, they rarely end up with complications but those who have long-term constipation can develop the following:
- Fecal impaction
- Bowel incontinence
Once an individual has constipation, prompt action must be taken in order to avoid long-term complications from developing.