Your bowels make up part of your lower digestive tract and consist of your intestines, rectum and anus. Your rectum is where stools are stored and your brain sends messages to your rectum when it is full and needs to be emptied. The aim is that you should go to the toilet between 3 times a week to 3 times a day, and avoid straining on the toilet which may be as a result of constipation.
Constipation is a condition in which a person has an uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. A person is considered to be constipated when bowel movements result in passage of small amounts of hard, dry stool, usually fewer than three times a week. However, normal stool elimination may consist of having a bowel movement three times a day or three times a week depending on the person.
Normally, as food moves through the colon (also known as the large intestine), the colon absorbs water while forming stool (waste products), muscle contractions then push the stool toward the rectum, by the time the stool reaches the rectum, most of the water has been absorbed, making the stool solid. When the colon’s muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, the stool moves through the colon too slowly, resulting in hard, dry stools. Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint.
CAUSES OF CONSTIPATION
- Not drinking enough water (dehydration)
- Eating foods low in fiber
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Not getting enough exercise
- Changes in regular routine or lifestyle, such as travel, pregnancy and old age
- Abuse of laxatives
- Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
- Problems with intestinal functions
SYMPTOMS OF CONSTIPATION
- Difficult and painful bowel movements
- Bowel movements fewer than three times a week
- Feeling bloated or uncomfortable
- Abdominal pain
WAYS TO KEEP YOUR BOWELS HEALTHY
- Drink up to 8 glasses of water per day
- Limit caffeine drinks to 2 per day
- Eat food high in soluble fiber e.g pasta, rice, vegetables and fruits
- Limit foods high in insoluble fiber such as bran and muesli as too much can bulk out your poo and make them hard and difficult to pass.
- Use probiotics to relieve constipation and for individuals who have an illness that requires antibiotics. www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/constipation#.
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Disclaimer: Please note that this information should not take the place of your doctor’s advice. Victory drugs is not liable for any action you take as a result of reading this article.