Constipation, despite being a topic that doesn’t come up often in everyday conversation, is nonetheless a very common problem. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic statistics, it’s one of the most prevalent problems in Western societies, and as many as 26% of women and 16% of men over the age of 65 suffer from it.
There are a few reasons why it’s more likely you’ll suffer from chronic constipation when you’re older. Many medications can have an adverse effect on your digestive system, such as calcium supplements and opioids. Other factors can also contribute, such as low-fibre diets, not drinking enough water and reduced mobility.
How to Tell if You’re Constipated
It’s common to experience occasional bouts of constipation, and most symptoms can be completely relieved by drinking more water and adjusting your diet. However, if you experience any of the following, you may be suffering from chronic constipation.
- Struggling to pass normal stools for an extended period of time
- Aching or cramping in the stomach
- Loss of appetite
If you are suffering from any of the above, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your GP and get a proper diagnosis. Although constipation is generally not considered a serious condition, it can cause problems, such as faecal impaction, haemorrhoids and faecal leakage. Additionally, it might be a sign of another underlying health problem, such as hypothyroidism.
Natural Constipation Remedies at Home
The most beneficial thing you can do to take action against constipation is to have a diet that is high in fibre. High-fibre foods include:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
Try to avoid fatty or processed foods and cut down on alcohol. It’s also important to make sure you drink plenty of water. You should aim to drink around 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day, but obviously, it’s a good idea to take into account how hot the day is, and how active you are.
Exercise can help get your bowel moving regularly again; and it’s recommended that you try to undertake half an hour of aerobic exercise at least 3 or 4 times during the week. Some great activities include brisk walking, gentle jogging, swimming or cycling.
If you find that changing your diet and lifestyle still isn’t helping alleviate your symptoms, there are a variety of effective over-the-counter medicines that you can try. It’s worth trying the natural remedies first before using laxatives, and it’s important to remember that they are designed as a short-term, not long-term solution.
Still Suffering from Chronic Constipation?
If you’re still having trouble passing stools easily, the next step is to talk to your GP. In some cases, the cause can be partly psychological; and if this is the case, your doctor will be able to recommend a course of treatment to help address the problem.
Remember, it’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. Your GP is used to talking about matters such as this and is there to help you to get better.
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