Constipation is a condition that almost everyone suffers from at one time or another. We generally know that we are constipated when we fail to have normal bowel movements or when we feel bloated, not done after having a bowel movement or have a feeling of being abnormally heavy in our abdomens. Constipation happens when we are unable to fully evacuate the stool in our colon and our body is reminding us that we are nowhere near being cleaned out.

What is a normal amount of bowel movements differs from person to person. Some people have three bowel movements a day while others may have just one every other day. A common rule of thumb is that a person is constipated if they have less than three bowel movements per week.

Most people average one bowel movement per day and 95 percent of adults have bowel movements between three times and twenty-one times per week. The vast majority of people do not have regular daily bowel movements or the same number of bowel movements on a daily basis.

What are the Causes of Constipation?

There are a great many reasons why a person might get constipated but some of the most common include:

  • Ingesting pain medication
  • A lack of fluid intake
  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • Diseases of the nervous system
  • Colon cancer
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Frequent use of Antacids which contain calcium or aluminum
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD
  • Pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism

For many people, constipation is more than an inconvenience it is a painful, debilitating condition. Ways to avoid getting constipated include daily exercise, drinking plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses of water a day) and eating healthy foods. Foods that should be part of a healthy diet are beans, green fruits such as Kiwi’s, sweet or baked potatoes, nuts such as walnuts and almonds, fruits such as pears and plums, prunes, and whole wheat bread. These are foods that will help your digestive system run efficiently.

The Most Commonly Used Cures for Constipation

Cures for common constipation include:

  • Mild exercise such as short walks
    •   Taking synthetic fibers such as Citrucel, Metamucil, or Perdiem
    •   Taking a stool softener like Colace
    •   Drinking a tablespoon of olive oil
    •   Drinking a teaspoon of molasses mixed with a warm glass of water
    •   Drinking a glass of orange juice mixed with flaxseed oil
    •   Drinking a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with a ¼ cup of warm water

There are many other home remedies that can be used to treat constipation, but the above methods are some of the simplest and most effective.

Severe Constipation

In most cases, constipation is caused by a diet that has little or no fiber or from not drinking enough fluids. Other causes include too little exercise, the use of pain medications or ignoring the urge to go when needed. Symptoms of severe or chronic constipation manifest themselves in various ways. For most people, chronic constipation means having infrequent bowel movements for more than three weeks. Other symptoms include straining to pass stool or feeling the need to pass stool but being unable to. When a person has chronic constipation, when they finally do pass stool it is formed or hard or small.

Severe constipation can happen to people of all ages, but adults that are 50 years old or older are at greater risk for having the disease. The reasons that they are more likely to suffer from severe constipation include:

  • A decrease in daily activity
  • A reduction in the amount of fluids that they drink
  • The use of painkillers such as Tylenol #3, Oxycodone, Acetaminophen or Dilaudid.
  • Ingesting other medicines that can cause chronic constipation such as hypertension medicines, antidepressants, or iron supplements.

The best methods for preventing or relieving chronic constipation are to stay active, drink plenty of fluids, add fiber to the diet and if necessary consider using stool softeners. If symptoms occur, take home medications like Milk of Magnesia or Ducolax.

Doctors advise people to seek medical treatment for constipation if they have less than three bowel movements per week for longer than three weeks. Severe constipation is a serious medical problem, and it can be a signal of other even more serious health problems such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid problems, diabetes or lupus. Therefore do not ignore the problem and seek medical help, if you experience severe or prolonged symptoms of severe constipation.