Constipation is an extremely common condition. It is estimated that up to 4 million Americans suffer from constipation at a given time. Constipation affects children, women, and elderly most commonly, although individuals of all age can be afflicted. If you are having difficulty passing stool, or having incomplete or infrequent passage of stool, it is likely that you are experiencing constipation. For reference, the normal bowel movements varies person to person, but usually range from 3 bowel movements per day to 3 times per week.
The most common causes of constipation includes dietary and life style factors. If you do not take enough fibers, do not drink enough water, or do not exercise, then, there is a higher likelihood of developing constipation. Other factors that are thought to be important in constipation includes medications. Medications that you take for high blood pressure or heart condition, medication for depression, calcium and iron pills are all important in causing constipation. Patients with diabetes or thyroid condition also have higher incidence of constipation. Another important cause of constipation is colon cancer. If you are over the age of 50 and is developing a new onset constipation, this possibility needs to be fully excluded.
In the treatment of constipation, it is very important that we modify certain life style and dietary factors. To do this, you will need to increase fiber intake that will result in increased volume or bulk of stool, and increase hydration to soften the stool. This is analogous to the situation with toothpaste. With a new toothpaste, it is extremely easy to squeeze out the toothpaste. But when there is very little toothpaste left or it is dried out, it becomes very difficult to squeeze out the toothpaste. Thus, it is important to increase the fiber and fluid in your diet to increase the bulk and soften the stool. It is also helpful to exercise on a regular basis to increase colonic activity. Other helpful measures include ingesting dietary fiber supplements. They can be purchased under the brand name of Metamucil or Citrucel. You can also soften the stool by taking stool softener sold under the name of Colace or mineral oil. Colonic stimulants are another type of medications that you can take to relieve constipation. They are sold under the brand name of Dulcolax and Senokot. Medications that require prescription includes Miralax, Amitiza, Lactulose, and Orlistat, and they can be helpful in certain situations.