Every individual will experience constipation during some point in their lives, but those who are pregnant and the elderly may experience this condition with increased frequency. The National Institute of Health (NIH) in conjunction with the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) have determined over 4 million adults experience constipation frequently, and use over-the-counter (OTC) remedies as treatment in a majority of cases. Most individuals perceive this condition as a medical problem when it is only a temporary condition, but it can be a symptom of the body not functioning properly and can potentially be the result of a medical condition.
About ConstipationThe average person believes if a bowel movement does not occur once a day, the body is experiencing constipation. However, this condition is only present when a movement occurs less than three times a week. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Feeling of fullness
- Sensation of blockage
Also, this symptom has two forms, acute and chronic. Acute conditions last for a period of less than three months, and can be resolved thorough lifestyle changes and temporary use of over-the-counter products. Chronic conditions last for three months or longer and are the result of multiple causes and a potential medical condition.
Causes of ConstipationFinding constipation relief starts with determining the source of the problem, and a majority can be resolved through various lifestyle changes. Causes include, but are not limited to:
- Fiber intake – a diet low in fiber, high in fats or a combination of these two factors can cause this symptom to appear. Increasing fiber intake by eating fruits, vegetables and grains while decreasing fatty foods such as eggs, cheese and milk can relive the effects of constipation naturally.
- Dehydration – Hard stools can result because of the lack of fluids in the body, making them difficult to pass through the intestines. Beverages such as soda, alcohol and coffee can increase the effects of constipation, individuals should choose water and juice to increase fluids and hydrate the body.
- Medications – Schedule an appointment with a physician if a medication is suspected to be causing constipation. Some medications can directly result in constipation or worsen an existing condition.
- Lack of Activity – Increasing physical activity by walking or participating in mild to moderate exercise can provide constipation relief. It is believed activity can stimulate the action of the intestine, and can be used as a natural remedy.