Constipation is a complicated and awkward topic for some. However, you have nothing to be ashamed of, because it is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions. In fact, according to research, 2.5 million Americans consult their doctors about being constipated every year.
If you need help conquering constipation, here are some tips from gut experts.
What Causes Constipation?
Medications, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are common causes of constipation. These factors can harden stool and cause difficulty in bowel movement. Pregnancy is also a cause of constipation for some. Hormone imbalances, stress, and dehydration can also impact digestion and cause constipation.
What You Can Do About Constipation
Here are tips from your gastroenterologist on how to avoid constipation. These tips are also useful in treating constipation.
Eat High-Fiber Foods
Fiber keeps your stool intact and increases its weight. The bulkier your fecal matter is, the easier it will pass. Fiber also helps with water absorption, so your stool won’t be as hard and can push through the colon. Thus, eating food high in fiber can help you avoid and treat constipation. High-fiber foods include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Your gastroenterologist may advise you to stay away from apples, watermelons, and other high-fructose foods if you have bowel sensitivity. You can also improve bowel movement by avoiding low-fiber foods such as dairy products and processed goods.
Drink Enough Fluids
Constipation occurs when your colon absorbs too much water from your body’s waste. When your water intake is low, your stool will be dry. Since your colon absorbs moisture as the stool passes, your fecal matter will be even drier. You should drink enough fluids, especially water, to avoid constipation.
Don’t Hold It In
Do not hold your stool in for long periods of time, because it can cause constipation. You feel the urge to go to the bathroom because your rectal nerves tell you so. These nerves send signals to your brain and alert you that it’s time to make a bowel movement.
Ignoring these signals may train your brain to avoid these alerts, which may result in unhealthy bathroom habits. Thus, you must follow your gut feeling and go to the bathroom when needed.
Constipation happens due to infrequent or difficult stool movement. One way to keep your bowel moving is by staying physically active. Regular exercise not only improves your bowel movements but also helps your overall wellness.
Learn to Manage Stress
Recent studies show chronic stress can cause or aggravate constipation and other gastrointestinal symptoms. The release of the hormone epinephrine during stressful situations diverts blood flow to help with vital organ function. However, this decreases blood flow in the intestines, resulting in decreased intestinal movement and possible constipation. Likewise, stress can push you to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can also cause constipation.
Consult Your Doctor
Pregnancy, medications and some diseases can cause constipation. If you are taking medications such as antidepressants, pain killers, and antihistamines, you may become constipated. Having diabetes, IBS, lupus, and other medical conditions also increases your risk of constipation.
Because of the numerous risk factors for constipation, you must consult your doctor for proper treatment and preventive measures. This is especially important if you are taking medications that you don’t have alternatives for or if you have a chronic disease.
If you notice blood in your stool or if you have irregular defecation habits or lower back and abdominal pain, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.
Gastroenterology Experts in Carlisle, PA
You can avoid and treat constipation by targeting its root causes. Drinking plenty of water, eating high-fiber foods, and not holding it in can help you conquer constipation effectively.
If you still feel constipated despite following these tips, you may need to consult your gastroenterologist. Here at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates, we can help you prevent, diagnose, and treat various gastrointestinal conditions.
For questions and concerns, call us at (717) 245-2228. You can also book an appointment online. We look forward to being your partner in gastrointestinal health!