Constipation is when you have hard and dry stools. It can be caused by eating foods that are hard and dry, or it can also be caused by not eating enough. It can also be caused by problems with your digestive tract, such as having a blockage or having stomach acid or gas.
You may have constipation when you sit for too long and not move around enough. You can also have constipation if you’re not eating enough or if you’re drinking enough fluids.
Sitting is a common cause of constipation.
Sitting for too long can cause your stool to become hard. If you have constipation, you may feel like you have to strain to have a bowel movement when you sit.
Constipation can also be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed. For example, constipation can be a sign of a problem with your digestive tract. You may have a blockage in your digestive tract, or you may have problems with your stomach acid.
Other causes of constipation
Other causes of constipation includes:
Frequent diarrhea and nausea You’re not drinking enough fluid or eating enough fiber.
Stress and other physical pain You’re having a hard time coping with pain.
Eating too little or too much You’re not eating enough.
How do you treat constipation?
If you have constipation, you may need to find out the cause of it. This will help you decide on the best treatment.
Some causes of constipation may go away with time. Some can be treated with changes to your diet and lifestyle. Others may require more serious medical treatment.
You might need to take certain medications to treat constipation. For example, anti-diarrhea medications can help reduce diarrhea that’s causing constipation.
Treat constipation with lifestyle changes
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to help you have regular bowel movements. These changes include:
- Avoiding foods that are hard or dry. If you have constipation, try to eat soft foods, such as whole grains and bananas.
- Drinking plenty of water. Drinking at least one gallon of water a day may help keep water in your body.
- Eating a high-fiber diet. Try to eat more foods that are high in fiber. You can add more fiber to your diet by eating more whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
- Limiting your alcohol intake. Drinking too much alcohol can cause constipation.
- Avoiding caffeine. Caffeine can cause constipation.
- Getting enough rest. When you’re not sleeping well, it can be hard to pass stool.
- Getting enough exercise. Taking a brisk walk after lunch or going for a quick bike ride can help you pass stool.
- Cutting back on stress. It’s hard to pass stool when you’re feeling stressed. Try to relax and take a few deep breaths.
- Getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep can help get your body’s signals and movements in sync.
- Taking over-the-counter pain medication for occasional constipation.
Taking medicines to treat constipation
Your doctor may have you take some different medicines to help you have regular bowel movements. These medicines include:
- Antidiarrheal medicines, such as loperamide (Imodium)
- Laxatives, such as simethicone (Mylanta) or lubiprostone (Amitiza)
If your constipation is caused by stomach acid or gas, you might need to take antacid medicine to help neutralize stomach acid. You may also need to take an antacid to help with gas.
If there’s a problem with your digestive tract, you may need to take medicine to treat the problem. Medicines for digestive problems include:
- Antacids, such as Alka-Seltzer, Mylanta, and PMD
- H2 blockers, such as Pepto-Bismol
- Proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec (lansoprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole)
If these treatments don’t work, you may need surgery to treat the cause of constipation.
Lifestyle changes can help you have regular bowel movements. These changes include:
- Eating a high-fiber diet. Try to include more whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables in your diet.
- Drinking more water. Drinking at least one gallon of water a day may help keep water in your body.
- Drinking less alcohol.
- Getting enough rest.
For some people, constipation is caused by an underlying health condition. If this is the case, your doctor may need to do tests to find out what’s causing the constipation.
How long does constipation last?
The average time that it takes to pass stool is 1 day.
Constipation is more likely to last longer if you’re on a low-fiber diet or if you have an underlying health condition that causes constipation.
For example, if you have an obstruction in your intestines, it may take 2 weeks to pass stool. You may need to take an antacid to help clear the blockage.
If you have severe constipation, you may need to see your doctor. It can be hard to pass stool if you have severe constipation.
When to see your doctor?
If you don’t get relief from home treatments, you should see your doctor. In some cases, constipation can be a sign of a serious problem. This is especially true in some people with an underlying health condition.
It’s important to tell your doctor about any constipation you have. If you don’t, you may end up with more serious problems.
If you have constipation, you may need to see your doctor to figure out what’s causing it.
Your doctor may suggest:
- Taking an antacid or antidiarrheal medicine.
- Taking an antacid or antidiarrheal medicine and a stool softener.
- Surgery to remove a blockage.
- Treatment for an underlying health condition, such as a problem with the digestive tract.
If you have constipation, you won’t be able to pass stool on your own. It’s important to be able to pass stool so you can see your doctor.
If you’re constipated, you might need to see your doctor to figure out why. In some cases, constipation is a sign of an underlying health condition. Your doctor will help you figure out what’s causing your constipation.
If your constipation is caused by an underlying health condition, you may need to treat it.
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