WHAT IS CONSTIPATION?
I want to start by saying that most people don’t have a normal formed bowel movement once a day on a regular basis. That usually just happens in the movies. The reality is most people’s bowels alternate from day to day. It is not unusual to have 2 or 3 bowel movements one day and then go 2 or 3 days without a bowel movement. Constipation by definition is going more than 3 days between bowel movements or having bowel movements that are excessively hard causing discomfort and straining.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CAUSES OF CONSTIPATION?
Most causes of constipation are diet and lifestyle related. We do know that a diet that is high in fiber and fluids helps keep our bowels more regular. The recommendation is to try and get 25-30 grams of fiber a day along with 6-7 good-sized glasses of a nonalcoholic non-caffeinated liquid a day. We also know that a sedentary lifestyle makes constipation more common. Increasing the fiber and fluids in your diet and increasing your physical activity will control constipation in the majority of patients. Constipation can also be caused by many different diseases that effect motility (like diabetes or scleroderma) and also things that cause obstruction in your colon (like polyps or colon cancer). There is also a long list of medications that have constipation as a side effect.
WHEN DO I NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR?
Most causes of constipation can be alleviated by increasing your fiber and fluid intake and getting on a regular physical activity regimen. If that does not do the trick try adding a gentle laxative like milk of magnesia or MiraLax. If you are still having constipation problems after that contact your physician or our office, as there are a lot of other good remedies that can be prescribed. Also, if your constipation is new in onset or associated with worsening abdominal pain or blood in your stool, please contact us as well for further evaluation. These are usually symptoms of something more going on.