Constipation is one of those subjects most people do not want to discuss. If you have experienced this condition, you know it can be frustrating and painful. Almost everyone experiences constipation at one time in their life. While the elderly and women are typically the most effected, about two percent of the U.S. population suffers from chronic constipation.
Constipation happens when a person’s bowel movements are difficult or not happening as often. There are several ways to treat constipation, but the best medicine for constipation is actually increase fiber in the diet.
Other ways of improving bowel movements are to increase the amount of water you drink daily, begin a regular exercise program, and watch the dairy that you consume. Other frequent causes of constipation include stress, taking to many laxatives which can weaken the bowel muscles, certain neurological diseases, hypothyroidism, and some antacids, especially those containing aluminum or calcium, and some medications.
Constipation can also be the result of diet changes, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, eating disorders, pregnancy, and in severe situations, colon cancer. There are also instances when constipation is caused by a lack of muscle or nerve function in the bowel.
There are several treatments for constipation, including emollient stool softener, prokinetics, osmotic agents, lubricants, and presecretory drugs, but the best medicine for constipation is still bulk-forming agents or fibers.
Fiber is also one of the least expensive treatments for constipation, especially over the long term. Those who are self-medicating for constipation should be aware that in January 2014, a warning was issued by the FDA about taking more than one dose of every 24 hours over-the-counter sodium phosphate products as treatment for constipation.
Exceeding this amount can result in kidney or heart damage or even death.
It helps to eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber. Sources of fiber include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, especially bran, and legumes. You should also drink one and one half to two quarts of water and other fluids daily. It is recommended to avoid liquids which contain alcohol or caffeine since these may have a dehydrating effect. It is also good to exercise regularly and move your bowels when you feel the need.
If your constipation lasts for more than a two or if this is a new condition, you should call your doctor. You should also call your doctor is you see blood in your stool, you are experiencing severe pain during bowel movements, or you are losing weight and are not dieting.
Constipation can be very uncomfortable, but is usually not serious. It is important to monitor your bowel movements to ensure there is no blood in your stool since this may indicate a more serious problem. Everyone is different and the time between normal bowel movements will differ from person to person.
What is important is if you are having difficulty with your bowel movements or if you are having bowel movements less frequently. If you have not had a bowel movement in three days, you should inform your medical provider.
The best medicine for constipation is to include more fiber in the diet, drink plenty of water, and get regular exercise. If you are experiencing constipation for longer than two weeks or see blood in your stool, you should call you doctor right away.