How regularly we go to the bathroom isn't generally a topic of discussion that comes up during family dinners. Most of us even find it difficult to discuss these problems during medical consultations, which prevents us from having the tools to improve our quality of life.
If you want to learn everything there is to know about this condition and how to deal with it, keep reading our new guide.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Supplements to Combat Constipation
- 4 Everything You Should Know About Constipation & How to Deal With It
- 5 Top Tips: How to Choose the Right Product Against Constipation
- 6 Summary
- Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from constipation; the frequency increases progressively in both genders from the age of 60 onward.
- It is not a disease in itself but rather a symptom that could indicate that something is off balance in your body or your environment.
- People suffering from this symptom report a significant decline in their quality of life.
Our Selection: The Best Supplements to Combat Constipation
There are various ways available on the market to treat this condition, from laxatives to dietary supplements. This range of options can make it tougher to make the right purchase. That's why we have selected the best products out there. You can learn more about them in the following section:
Everything You Should Know About Constipation & How to Deal With It
Many people find it challenging to identify when they have constipation, what could be causing it, and how to handle it. In fact, most of us don't know when to consider it an emergency that should be treated by a doctor or even in the emergency room. To help you make the right decision, we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding constipation in the section below.
What is constipation exactly?
- More than three abundant and very soft bowel movements a day indicate diarrhea.
- Less than three bowel movements a week indicate constipation.
- If constipation lasts less than three months, it can be considered acute.
- If constipation lasts more than three months, it can be considered chronic.
It's that simple! You should also take into account the hardness of the stool and the effort you have to make to pass a bowel movement, as these are prevalent accompanying symptoms of constipation (1).
What are the causes of constipation?
- Long-term consumption of drugs such as antidepressants, iron supplements, and antihistamines;
- Diabetes mellitus and other metabolic disorders;
- Psychiatric disorders such as depression and anorexia nervosa;
- Neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease;
- Problems in the structure of the digestive tract such as blockages;
- Unfavorable lifestyle (sedentary, inappropriate diet, low fluid intake, and overweight or obesity) (15).
What can I do to fight constipation?
- Increase your fiber consumption. 30 grams of fiber per day can support the regularization of stools (13). Fibers are present in fruits, legumes, and cereals, but be careful! You should raise your intake gradually and under the supervision of your doctor; in certain conditions, fiber could worsen your constipation if you have megacolon or bowel obstruction (1).
- Exercise. Including physical activity in your daily life brings all kinds of benefits, one of which is that it helps activate bowel movements. This doesn't mean you have to become a marathon runner overnight; you can start with three hours of low-impact exercise a week and work your way up progressively.
- Drink enough water. You should consume at least 2 liters per day, or more in tropical environments, when exercising, or if you have fever (12).
- If you have to go, you have to go! Nature's call can come at the worst possible time, and you may want to ignore it to avoid feeling embarrassed. However, this will have a negative impact on the regularity of your bowel movements and can lead to chronic constipation in the long run. If you need some food for thought, remember that everyone needs to go to the bathroom.
- Lift your knees. The toilet is an invention that allows you to sit comfortably to meet your biological needs, but it can cause problems when evacuating! Getting a small support to raise your knees to chest level is an easy fix that won't compromise your comfort.
What are the warning signs of constipation?
- Sudden unexplained changes in weight;
- Feces with mucus and/or blood or rectal bleeding;
- Bloating or increase in the perimeter of the abdomen due to accumulation of gas or liquid;
- Abdominal pain.
Can my child be constipated?
Infants may have 12 bowel movements a day or only one every five days. The key to knowing if their bowel movements are healthy is to make sure that they are soft and that the baby doesn't force when defecating.
As they grow, the frequency will become more regular. A 4-year-old child generally has one to two bowel movements a day, becoming more like adults as they get older.
What are the most common types of laxatives?
These include saline and non-saline products. Both are hard to absorb by the intestine, which is why they attract a large amount of water to the interior of the colon.
Unlike osmotic products, these laxatives directly stimulate the walls of the large intestine, causing it to move. This helps to transport the stool more easily.
Stool Softeners or Emollient Agents
These laxatives help mix fat, water, and stool to aid in intestinal transit, generating soft, lubricated stools.
Top Tips: How to Choose the Right Product Against Constipation
Since this condition can affect vulnerable population groups such as children, older adults, and pregnant women, knowing which product is the most suitable for your situation is absolutely essential. In the section below, we will give you the tips you need to make the right purchase:
Not all treatments for constipation are safe, especially for at-risk groups such as pregnant women. It is important to avoid any components that may be absorbed by the placenta, that may stimulate uterine contractions, or that are potentially toxic to the developing baby.
In that regard, the most appropriate supplements during pregnancy are osmotic laxatives (non-absorbable sugars such as lactulose, sorbitol, and mannitol). They should be prescribed by a specialist (1). Stimulant laxatives should be avoided at all costs – those that contain senna, bisacodyl, frangula, aloe, or castor oil. These laxatives can stimulate uterine contractions, triggering premature births or abortions (14).
This population group should steer clear of supplements or laxatives that absorb high amounts of water in the large intestine. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. In addition, they should always be very careful to drink plenty of water, maintain a healthy diet, and engage in physical activity that suits the individual's capabilities and limitations.
Quite simply, you should never give any supplement to them without first discussing and evaluating the situation with your pediatrician. Besides, it is essential that you properly educate your children and motivate them to go to the bathroom (2).
Nowadays, you can easily find supplements that are vegan-friendly and allergen-free; however, it isn't necessarily the case with all products. You should always read the product label carefully. While some supplements do not directly contain allergens, they are manufactured in facilities where other products do contain them. Cross-contamination is a risk you don't want to take.
Constipation is a common symptom that affects a very large part of the world's population, especially women and adults over the age of 60. There is no single cause for this condition, which is why it is essential that you consult your physician to find the root of the problem and treat it appropriately.
Lifestyle changes, dietary supplements, and laxatives have all been shown to be effective in treating this symptom, improving the quality of life for those who suffer from constipation.
Do you know anyone who has been battling this condition? Then feel free to share this article with them, so they also have the tools to deal with it! We hope that you found this guide helpful and informative. We'd love to hear your thoughts; you can leave us a comment in the section below!
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