When people retreat to the toilet, the idea is to accomplish the mission at hand as fast as possible. But there are those moments when expelling stool becomes a painful affair, writes JOYCE GATHU and BOB OTIENO
It is likely that you have already experienced the discomfort of struggling to expel hard and dry stool that just will not budge. Those who have gone through the uncomfortable feeling describe the ordeal as a nightmare they wouldn’t want to go through again in their life.
“It is like trying to push out something from the system that ought to come out, but no matter how much you push, the stool doesn’t budge,” explains Nancy Karanja, a student at a city college.
Unfortunately, when it comes to constipation, Karanja is not in the minority.
Constipation is one of the most prevalent stomach and intestinal related problems. Doctors consider a health related condition, which in the past few years have become quite common and which was virtually unknown in the culture and diets high in fibre.
Until in the early 1970s many people including scientist thought the indigestible part of food we eat that goes right thought our bodies was useless to us. As a result most people did not take their fibre intake seriously consequently leading to many life style diseases including colon cancer, which todays is among the biggest killer.
“Although there are varying medical views of when one can be said to be suffering from constipation, consensus has it that if you are passing less than three stools in a week, then you are suffering from constipation,” explains Dr Jackline Mumo, a nutritionist in Nairobi.
Dr Mumo says that generally, normal bowel movement varies from three per day, to three per week, due to many factors that affect normal and smooth release.
“What we take in comes out as waste. Under normal circumstances, waste is pushed through the intestines by the contraction of muscles, but when there is insufficient fluid or foods rich in fibre in your diet, then it will cause the stool to harden and dry,” Dr Mumo expounds.
Consequently, hard and dry stool is difficult to expel, it moves slowly down the colon causing you major discomfort and even pain.
According to Dr Peter Oketch who is a specialist physician, besides diet, there are other causes of constipation.
“There are times when the muscles responsible for propelling waste down your colon are not well coordinated. This can cause constipation,” Dr Oketch explains.