Constipation refers to change in bowel habits. Stools may be too hard or too small, difficult to pass or infrequent . People may also notice a frequent need to strain and a sense that the bowels are not empty . It is a common problem and each year more than 2.5 million Americans visit their health care provider for relief. In general constipation occurs more frequently as you get older
If you had a recent change in bowel habits , blood in stool, weight loss, or a family history of colon cancer further testing like blood tests , X rays , sigmoidoscopy , colonoscopy or more specialized testing may be required
Treatment includes changing some behaviors , eating foods high in fiber , increasing fluid intake and using laxatives and enemas if needed
Behaviour changes – Bowels are more active following meals and this is the time when stools will pass more readily. If you ignore the body’s signals to have bowel movement , the signals become weaker and weaker overtime . Drinking a caffeine containing beverage may also be helpful.
Increase fiber- Increasing fiber in your diet may reduce or eliminate constipation. The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 20-35 gms of fiber per day. Fruits and vegetables like apples with skin, banana, oranges, prunes , cooked green beans, carrots , cooked peas, baked potatoes with skin , cucumber with peel, lettuce , tomato, spinach, legumes (beans, kidney beans, lima beans, boiled lentils) , oatmeal, whole wheat bread, Rice, Macaroni , almonds and peanuts are all rich in fiber .
Some breakfast cereals are also excellent source of dietary fiber.
Consuming large amount of fiber can cause abdominal bloating or gas , this can be minimized by starting with a small amount and slowly increasing until stools becomes softer and more frequent.
Fiber supplements like metamucil and benefiber can be added , if behavior changes and increasing dietary fiber does not relive your constipation. You should increase the dietary fiber slowly to prevent gas and cramping and you should always take the supplement with plenty of water. Laxative s like Miralax , lactulose, senna or bisacodyl , suppositories or enemas could be added to relieve constipation if the above measures are not helpful.
Do you need treatment for Constipation? Call Gastroenterology Institute of Orlando, FL at 407-201-3686 to learn more about treatment!