The Most Common Back Up
By: Laura Greaney, MSN
Bloating, gassy, and discomfort are all signs that 80% of Americans have felt at one time or another. Constipation is a common issue among people. Most cases of constipation can be relieved with minimal effort, however, there are chronic cases of constipation. For people who are feeling distress, look at your physical activity, medications, medical history and dietary habits. Constipation is defined as having less than 3 bowel movements in a week according to the Mayo Clinic. Furthermore, constipation can be described as having hard stools, straining to pass bowels and not feeling completely emptied. After a bowel movement you should feel a relief in your intestines. “Normal” when speaking about bowel movements will be different for every person. Some may go daily, others may go every few days but as long as bowels are easy to pass and give you a sense of relief you are considered “normal.”
Excreting waste out of your body in a timely fashion is essential for proper functioning. When waste takes too long to move through the colon it becomes hard and dry making it harder to pass. Some factors that can lead to constipation are lack of dietary fiber in diet, dehydration, limited physical activity, medications, narcotics, being a female as well as older in age. According to an article written by Konstantin Monastyrsky, women experience more mental stressers and hormonal changes which could cause constipation. Also, women tend to feel more embarrassed for bathroom activities and sounds when in public, often leading them to withhold passing gas/bowels. Furthermore, hormones help to balance fluids in your body and certain diseases/medical conditions can disrupt this balance. According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetes, hypothyroidism and pregnancy are all conditions that can upset this balance.
If you believe you are having constipation issues, there are several treatments to help. The most common treatment is looking at you dietary habits. Make sure you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Most commonly, you want to make sure you are getting in at least 64 oz per day. Then double check the dietary fiber in your diet. You should be getting in 25-35g of dietary fiber daily. Dietary fiber helps to add weight to your stools. By making your stools heavier it allows for faster transit through your intestines. Something similar that you can add to your diet is a fiber supplement such as Metamucil or Fibercon. This will also add bulk to your stool. Exercising is another treatment that will help pass bowels. For example, the exercise squats massages your colon by contracting and relaxing your muscles against the colon. Stool softeners are bought over the counter and they will help draw water from your intestines to moisten your dryer stool; such as Colace. Osmotics are more of your laxatives such as Miralax and Milk of Magnesia. These will help fluids move through the colon at a faster rate. When in doubt, try to change your exercise level and dietary habits before taking any medications.
Feeling backed up is something that disrupts your day to day activities. The feeling of being bloated is not something that you should consider a norm. Take active steps in reviewing your dietary habits and exercise to see if you can live a lighter life. Eliminating waste from your system is vital to keeping your other organs happy.
WHY DO WOMEN GET CONSTIPATED MORE OFTEN THAN MEN? By: Konstantin Monastyrsky