Whatsoever comes in must come out, so is the food we consume. Our bodies are programmed to absorb the necessary nutrients from what we ingest and the waste defecated. It is then that you get the urge to pass a stool. But what happens when the compulsion is present but are only able to unleash a pebble-sized poo? Worse still, the process is painful and strenuous.
Constipation is a condition characterized by having less than three bowel movements a week, difficulty in emptying bowels, and hardened feces. Though it cuts across the board, women are more at risk because of the occurrence of hormonal changes. Besides women, the elderly are at a greater risk of reduced bowel movement. If left unattended, it poses serious health effects.
- Hemorrhoids (swollen, inflamed veins in the rectum)
- Anal fissures (tears in the lining of the anus)
- Diverticulitis (infection in the pouches)
- Fecal impaction (pile-up of stool in the rectum and anus)
- Stress urinary incontinence due to damaged pelvic floor muscles
The causes vary:
- Reduced fiber intake
- Low water intake
- Lack of exercise
- Regularly ignoring the urge to poop
- Medicines such as iron supplements and blood pressure medication
- Diseases such as diabetes that may interfere with the digestive tract and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Stress or anxiety among children
- Changes in your routine
- Poor sitting posture
- The growing uterus can put pressure on the bowel resulting in difficulty to move stool
- An increase in progesterone hormone during pregnancy can result in relaxed body muscles and the intestines. The result is slower digestion that contributes to constipation
With the causes identified, it is necessary to look out for the symptoms though some people may not exhibit them.
- Stomach ache and cramps
- Feeling bloated
- Feeling nauseous
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling that you haven’t fully emptied your bowel
- Bleeding (in such extreme cases, visit a doctor)
- lack of energy, being irritable, angry, or unhappy
- foul-smelling wind and stools
- abdominal pain and discomfort that improves after evacuation
- soiling their clothes
- generally feeling unwell
Before heading over to the laxatives, one should consider changing their diet and lifestyle. One should consider:
- Increasing water intake
- Consuming a high fiber diet (though it can worsen symptoms in some patients with chronic constipation)
- Keeping a food diary to identify foods that trigger constipation,
- Consuming probiotics to alter the colonic flora
- Staying calm
- Maintaining a good posture while on the toilet seat
- Sticking to a routine
- Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables
- Drinking a tablespoon of mineral oils such as olive oil to improve the bowel movement.
As Winnie’s Pure Health, our range of high fiber products such as Ugali Afya, Brown Rice, Chapati Afya, Atta Mark 1, Wimbi Afya, Uji Afya, and Toto Afya can ease the process. In addition to the aforementioned self-management activities and foods to incorporate, knowing the nature and color of your poop (as pictured below) can help one identify their problem.
A healthy digestive system with regular bowel movements is crucial to one’s wellbeing. Therefore, consider eating right, hydrating often, and being active to keep constipation at bay.