Constipation

Constipation

One in four Canadians have symptoms of constipation and it affects people of all ages. Now, as the definition of constipation is stated as infrequent or difficult bowel movements. Normal bowel movements should be soft and formed and easy to pass.  It is normal to have 1 to 3 bowel movements per day or even 1 every 3 days.

There are many causes of constipation. Poor diet and fluid intake are big contributors to the condition. Other causes include everything from stress, travel, medication, pregnancy, and aging to symptoms of other medical conditions. Unfortunately, the digestive system can be very sensitive to subtle and significant changes to lifestyle and activity.

Having said this, there are many options for treatment of this condition. Usually the first step for most people is to take a hard look at their diet. Most Canadians consume less than half of their required daily intake of water and fiber. Increasing water and fiber intake may be all that you need to regulate your system. If you are constipated, it is also important to minimize your caffeine and alcohol intake as these both cause dehydration, which can worsen the condition. White rice can have the same effect (that’s why they say to eat it when you suffer from diarrhea).

Exercise can also have a significant effect on your digestive system.  Walking at least half an hour per day can help your digestive system along. There are other exercises and techniques, just as simple as walking, but they are best described by a physiotherapist specializing in pelvic health. The therapist can also help you to understand the importance of recognizing the cues that your body gives you to let you know it is time to go as well as the proper positioning and protocol for having a bowel movement. I know this sounds silly, but there is a right to sit on our modern toilets that will help move things along.  If you want to learn more about how sitting on our toilets can be detrimental to your bowel health, have a look at the website www.squattypotty.com

It is preferable to try all of these before resorting to stool softeners and laxatives as these can become a habitual fallback. In some instances, overuse of stool softeners and more notably laxatives can condition the bowel to require them to function.

For more information, visit the Pelvic Health Solutions website listed in the references below.

 

References

www.pelvichealthsolutions.ca

www.cdhf.ca

www.statcan.gc.ca

www.heartandstroke.com

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