Ok, so everyone has been constipated a few times in their life, but when should you start to worry, and how long is too long?
We’re going to tackle the uncomfortable ‘hard’🤭 truths about constipation, and discuss when your lack of bowel movements should warrant an emergency.
What is constipation?
Ok let’s back up and talk about what constipation is and when it occurs. Constipation is when your bowel movements become less frequent and it becomes more difficult for stool to pass through your system.
What causes constipation
Constipation can be caused by numerous factors, including poor diet, inadequate water intake and lack of exercise. Or it could be a result of existing medical conditions like diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), pregnancy, stress or certain medications.
According to research, there are three kinds of constipation. These are:
- Normal transit constipation - Stool moves through your GI (Gastrointestinal) tract but hard stool makes it difficult to pass
- Slow transit constipation - More straining and harder stool occur due to the slower contracting GI tract
- Outlet defecation syndrome or ODS - a type of chronic constipation involving hard stool and an inability to pass stool that occurs at least once a week for six months.
Normal and slow transit constipation are considered motility disturbances, which means how well the muscles in your gastrointestinal muscles (GI) tract are moving, or not moving in this case.
How do you know if you’re constipated?
So here’s the thing. Everyone’s bowel movements will differ, even from male to female, and your pooping schedule will change with age and pregnancy.
However if you’re visiting the restroom more than three times a week, not straining and experiencing a normal consistency, then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
How long before constipation is serious?
Although mild constipation is common, there are certain warning signs that may signal serious medical conditions such as fecal impaction, bowel perforation and increased risks for cardiovascular events.
Experiencing major bloating or severe abdominal pain? If accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, dark stool or blood present in the stool, bile and unexplained weight loss, seek immediate medical treatment.
Constipation treatment and prevention
There’s simple things you can do to eliminate mild constipation. Drinking plenty of water (8-10 glasses of water) or more if constipated, up your fiber intake with your diet or supplements and exercise to keep the intestines moving.
Treatment may include anything from prescription laxatives and stool softeners to help soften and pass the hard stool.
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