You may not be aware of it, but the frequency of constipation in the US is higher than other countries. A critical step in fighting constipation is recognizing it when you have it.
As a general rule, you suffer from constipation if you experience fewer than three bowel movements weekly. However, the more accurate definition of symptoms is as follows.
You are constipated if you experience at least two of the symptoms below for twelve weeks:
- Difficulty in going about 25% of the time
- Hard feces about 25% of the time
- Feeling that you have not completely emptied when you go about 25% of the time
- Fewer than three bowel movements weekly
What’s to blame?
Nutritional habits and lifestyle are the usual culprits. Today people typically eat less fiber, are overweight, suffer from high levels of stress and do not exercise as much as they should. Other causes include a disruption from routine (for example vacations, traveling) or hormonal changes in women (for example, menopause, pregnancy).
When should you see a doctor?
If your constipation is not temporary you should see your doctor. You should also see a doctor if constipation is accompanied by other symptoms like blood in your feces or severe weight loss.
What are the consequences?
Chronic constipation has a negative effect on quality of life and can lead to more frequent development of hemorrhoids, stretch marks. The large intestine will also not function properly and may be completely obstructed in the elderly.
- People over the age of 45 and especially those 60-64 years old
- Overweight people and those suffering from obesity
How do you treat it?
Unfortunately, simply changing eating habits and consuming more fiber and water is usually not enough to reverse the effects of constipation once it occurs. Neither is increasing physical activity. Cleansing tea is a good strategy, but most people have to use pharmaceuticals to alleviate the problem.