Action Alerts

Glossary

Select a Health Topic

Constipation

 

Constipation refers to a change in bowel habits characterised by a decrease in frequency or hard, dry stools. Bowel emptying may be incomplete.

 

Symptoms

  • Hard stools that are difficult or painful to pass
  • Nausea, anxiety, headache and general discomfort

 

Causes

Constipation is normally caused by inadequate amounts of fiber in the diet, but other contributing factors may be:

  • Not drinking enough water
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Putting off going to the toilet after you get the urge
  • Fear of pain during defecation
  • Pregnancy
  • Overuse of laxatives

Persistent, chronic constipation may also be a symptom of more serious disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis.

Constipation tends to be more pronounced during pregnancy, when its causes may include the pressure of the baby on the bowel, changed eating and drinking habits, or the side effects of some types of iron supplements.

 

Natural Therapies

  • Slippery Elm and Flaxseed are both sources of fiber that produce a jelly-like substance in the bowel, making stools softer and bulkier and easier to pass. They should always be taken with large amounts of water.
  • Herbal laxatives such as Senna and Cascara will help to stimulate a bowel motion, however should not be used for extended periods of time or if you are pregnant. The prolonged use of laxatives is not desirable and may lead to a dependency, or inability of the bowel to move on its own.
  • Probiotic supplements such as Acidophilus and Bifidus improve the balance of good bacteria in the bowel and help to maintain regularity

 

Lifestyle Factors

A diet containing lots of fruit, vegetables and cereal foods is high in fiber. Try to eat as much unprocessed food as possible.

 

Remedy

Fibre and water are both important for bowel regularity. Aim to maintain a good balance between soluble fiber (such as psyllium or apple fiber, which has the ability to absorb a lot of water and produces a soft stool), and insoluble fiber (such as wheat bran, which produces a larger, but harder stool).

A lifestyle based on regular exercise, clean water and a diet of fresh foods and grains is the best approach to avoiding constipation.

 

Important Notes

Consult your healthcare professional if

  • You experience lower abdominal pain when trying to pass stools
  • Your stool contains blood, or looks like it contains coffee grounds
  • Your constipation develops after you start a new prescription drug or natural health supplement
  • You or your child has been constipated for two weeks
  • You are elderly or disabled and have been constipated for a week or more; you may have an impacted stool
share

This site is under construction. Please come back frequently and enjoy the progress. July 2016.

Countdown

238 days since appleaday-online will issue it's first newsletter, sign up to be sure to get the information.

Syndicate

Syndicate content

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer