Whether you’re travelling, stressed, or change your diet for whatever reason, there comes a time when you can’t quite go.
Yes, we’re talking about constipation. And how to treat it.
Steve Marburg, a representative from The National Continence Foundation, explains constipation can be different for different people: “regular is two to three times a day to two to three times a week. It’s a very big range of what is considered normal”.
A recent study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found the number of people arriving at hospital emergency rooms due to constipation is on the rise.
According to the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, up to one in five adults report they have constipation.
Yes, constipation is a very real health problem. There are many things that can contribute to being constipated, diet, water intake and even underlying medical issues.
Here are a few things you can do if you can’t poo.
Exercising regularly can play a role in maintaining bowel movements. “Some foods tend to make your bowels slower and stools firmer. By exercising more, your blood pressure will help everything to pump, and in turn will help move your bowels. The more blood that goes through your system, the more your bowel will move.”
Try some of these simple yoga moves. (Post continues after gallery).
2. Drink water.
Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to treat constipation as it encourages bowel movements. Avoiding energy and alcoholic drinks can also be beneficial, as they are diuretics and can prevent you from needing to do a poo.
3. Eat high fibre foods.
Balancing fibre and fluid intake may be all that is required for some people to regulate their bowels. It’s recommended that adults have 25 to 30g of fibre daily. Marburg recommends increasing your intake of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains to increase your toilet visits.
Taking high fibre supplements like Metamucil ($19.99) will also help things, err, move along.
4. Leave time to “go”.
Not leaving enough time in the morning to head to the ladies room is a common cause of constipation.
“The gastrocolic reflex helps bowel movements. This is if you put something in your mouth, like food, in the morning once you have woken up, and you have something in your rectum (a stool, which often happens during the night), you will usually need to go in the morning,” Marburg explains.
“This will usually happen about 15 minutes after you eat breakfast, but if you don’t leave enough time after breakfast before you leave the house and ignore the need to go during the day, this can contribute to constipation.”
Marburg recommends leaving time after you have eaten breakfast at home do attempt to do a poo, as working in a high-stress job, where you are more likely to not use the bathroom during the day, can block you up.
5. Go to the doctor.
If, after you have tried the above, you are still finding that you’re constipated, you may need to seek medical advice.There can be many contributing factors to constipation, including the use of certain drugs and medications, hormonal and metabolic disorders, bladder leakage, neurological disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, stroke) and pregnancy.
Many women also find they tend to be constipated just before their menstrual periods as hormonal changes can also affect their bowels.
If nothing changes after two weeks to a month, you should consider visiting the doctor.
“Explain what you have tried and ask ‘where to from here?’. It may involve a scan to see how blocked up you are, or a physical examination,” Marburg says.
“Sometimes you do need to try these things for a week or so before you notice any changes. You can also consider taking a mild stool softener before you go to bed to see if this helps.” Marburg says.
Have you been constipated before? How did you fix it?
Drinking more water can also help, if you need motivation to do so- try these delicious cococtions
The free National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66) is staffed by continence nurse advisors who provide advice, resources and referrals to local continence services. The Helpline is managed by the Continence Foundation on behalf of the Australian Government.
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