What is Constipation?
Constipation is a term used to describe a common condition when someone isn’t passing stool (faeces/poo) regularly or they are unable to completely empty their bowels. Constipation has several causes which we describe below.
The severity of constipation can vary from one person to the next. The majority of people only experience constipation for a short period. In others, it can last for a long time (chronic) which may cause significant discomfort and pain.
Symptoms of constipation vary from one person to the next but may include the following:
- Passing faeces less often
- Not feeling ‘empty’ or ‘complete’ after going to the toilet
- Having to excessively strain during bowel motions
- Feeling bloated, nauseous and suffering from abdominal pains and cramping
- Suffering from diarrhea which is when the diarrhea is an overflow of liquid faeces passing around the harder stool in the large bowel
Constipation can arise from the following factors although it’s not easily known to what has caused it.
- Side effects to certain medications and supplements
- Ignoring the urge to pass a bowel motion
- Poor diet
- The wrong kind of bacteria in the bowel
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not undertaking enough exercise
- Recent surgery
- Piles (Haemorrhoids making the bowel motion difficult or painful to pass)
- A change in lifestyle especially relating to an altered diet or a tummy bug
- Weaknesses in the bowel muscle walls (especially in women) causing a sensation of ‘bulging’ when going to the loo
Constipation can be eased by making simple changes to both diet and lifestyle. This may include eating a high fibre diet although this may not suit everyone’s individual needs. Drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding caffeine where possible may help to prevent constipation.
Medication such as an oral laxative, which will help towards emptying the bowel, can be prescribed to treat constipation.
Lifestyle changes, diet and laxatives are quite effective, although occasionally it can take several months to re establish a normal bowel motion pattern.
For most people constipation rarely causes any complications, but people with long-term constipation can develop:
- haemorrhoids (piles)
- faecal impaction (where dry, hard stools collect in the rectum)
- faecal incontinence (the leakage of liquid poo/ stools/ faeces)
By the time you come to see us at The Functional Gut Clinic you may well have had these symptoms for some time and tried many different treatments. It is our aim to use our advanced testing techniques to find out exactly what is and isn’t working properly with your bowel and diet. We can then use this information to help personalise your treatment and improve your symptoms.