Constipation is a condition that occurs when there is an incomplete bowel movement or when one has less bowel movement than what their normal pattern is.
Regular bowel movement can range from thrice a day to thrice a week.
Constipation can be brought about by a number of factors including low water and fluid intake, low fibre intake, or as a side effect to cancer treatment and after taking some medications for controlling pain, nausea and swelling.
Other causes include lack of physical activity, overuse of laxatives, postponing or ignoring toilet time, taking too many supplements containing iron or calcium, taking too many antibiotics, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome and stress.
Signs that you might be constipated include:
• You strain to pass stool most of the time
• You have not had a bowel movement for more than four days
• You are passing stool that is hard, dry and pellet like
• You have a feeling of incomplete evacuation
• You feel bloated and full
What to do when constipated:
• Increase your usual water intake by 2-4 more glasses per day
• Take warm liquids in the morning to give your digestive system a good kick start
• Take fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes as well as wholemeal cereals like whole meal bread
• Avoid processed foods with a lot of fat and salt
• High-fat foods as well as low-fibre cereals should be avoided
• Depending on the severity, one can also take a mild laxative
How to prevent constipation:
• Adequate water and fluid intake
• Adequate intake of fibre in the diet, from fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholemeal cereals
• Do not postpone or ignore toilet time
• Avoid drinking too much tea and coffee and other caffeinated beverages as they have a dehydrating effect.
• Engage in regular physical exercise