Treatment for constipation

What is constipation?

Constipation is a bowel movement that is incomplete, hard to pass or not frequent. The stool often appears dark in colour and is hard to pass, and is sometimes dry in texture. Constipation is very common and can affect people of all ages, races and lifestyles. Even children as young as one-year-old or younger can suffer from it. By definition “it is a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faeces.”

What foods help relieve constipation?

Knowing what to eat and what to do is important when you have constipation as some foods can ease it, whilst others could make it worse. Prunes are top of the list as a helper! They contain a high amount of fibre, which in turn helps rush things along your colon quicker. Most doctors will recommend prunes as a first choice. Apples contain a lot of fibre, they also contain pectin, which softens and adds water to your stool. Be careful though because too much could cause diarrhoea.

Citrusy fruits such as oranges, in the form of orange juice or whole oranges, are well known to relieve you of constipation. Rhubarb is known for its bowel stimulating properties, as it contains a compound called sennoside. This compound is more commonly known as Senna glycoside and is a natural herbal laxative.

Sweet potatoes contain a lot of insoluble fibre, which adds bulk and weight to the stool. It is known as a good constipation reliever, as it also contains high amounts of fibre. Beans, peas, and lentils are good bowel stimulators. They can also cause some intestinal discomfort, so try the others beforehand as you can get quite gassy, and uncomfortable if you eat too many.  In hindsight adding more fruits, beans, plenty of fibre, as well as water, and natural juices will all add bulk and water to the bowel. This, in turn, will help to alleviate your constipation symptoms.

For young kids, it is very difficult to diagnose as they cannot explain what they are feeling. Usually, tell-tale signs that they are constipated is if they make it known that they have a belly ache/cramps or if they have tried to go to the toilet and are doing strenuous straining. This could make their face go slightly red from the pressure of pushing. If their constipation problems to not resolve, do not hesitate to visit your health care professional. (doctor, health visitor, etc)

What foods make constipation worse?

Just as important as the foods to eat are the ones that you should avoid! Unripe bananas can worsen constipation, whereas ripe ones can stop constipation. Make sure you buy the right banana for you! Green bananas contain something called resistant starch, which is harder for your body to digest.

Alcohol, after a night out on the town, drinking your body weight in alcohol. You may find the next morning that you struggle to use the restroom. This is because of the persistent urination during the alcohol binge, your body tends to dehydrate, so make sure you top up with water and pace yourself.  -Processed grains can also cause you to have constipation such as white rice, white bread, and white pasta as they are less nutritious and maybe more constipating than whole-grain foods.

Milk and dairy products, particularly in toddlers, have a constipating effect on. This can be a cause of sensitivity in the proteins found in cows milk. Red meat contains little to no fibre and can take weeks for your body to digest. It may also reduce your natural fibre intake and replace it.

Red meat seems to be more filling which means you miss out on your fruits, fibres, vegetables and legumes that would normally be eaten in the same sitting. High fat or fried foods bulk you up as they add no nutritional value what so ever, they increase the risk of health problems and constipation is one of them, they also replace your fibre intake which should be replaced with fruits and vegetables.

When to see a doctor?

It is best to see a doctor if constipation seems to be unusual and new to your bowel habits, new bowel habits should be taken seriously and consulted by a doctor. You are in pain, when passing your bowel movements, give your doctor a call as they may want to bring you in for testing or laxative medication.

If you have been constipated for longer than two weeks its best to see a doctor. If you find blood in your stool or when you wipe its time to see your doctor, blood should be taken seriously, normally it could be nothing but it is not a risk worth taking.

Questions and answers about constipation

Can constipation cause chest pain?

Constipation and chest pain are complex symptoms that can have multiple causes. The best person to evaluate whether your constipation is causing chest pain would be a doctor or a physician. It is possible that constipation can cause chest pain from internal pressure in the body.

Is constipation during early pregnancy normal?

Besides from just foods, and digestion. Other things could be the cause such as worry, anxiety, and even a lack of physical exercise. Due to the major changes to your body whilst, you are pregnant all of the above will likely be heightened. Constipation also commonly occurs more in pregnant women because of excess hormones and because of the pressure build-up of the uterus.

Some pregnant women who suffer from anaemia take iron tablets and constipation is one of the possible side effects which could also be to blame. Even though pregnant women commonly suffer from nausea and vomiting from morning sickness. If you are worried about it, definitely talk to your midwife or doctor.

Up next: How to make crystallised ginger


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