Constipation is defined as difficulty in passing stools. It may be incomplete evacuation of the bowel, retention of or the infrequent passage of stools.
Causes of Constipation
Perhaps some of the most common causes of constipation are the following;
- Inappropriate diet
- Laxative / enema abuse
- Physical inactivity
- Metabolic / Endocrine abnormalities
- Side effects of mainstream drugs
- Inadequate water in the diet to soften stool
Any unexplained change in bowel habits should not be overlooked and a differential diagnosis to rule out more serious diseases needs to be incorporated in any treatment regime. Familial, social and dietary customs do influence and affect bowel habits and this also needs to be taken into consideration.
Treatment of Constipation
Retraining the bowel and normalizing bowel transit time may incorporate some of the following measures;
- Consume a high fibre diet enriched with fruit and vegetables.
- Never suppress the urge to defecate.
- Identify and eliminate known causes.
- Habitual use of laxatives should cease.
- Physical exercise on a daily basis is important to stimulate regular bowel movements.