The bowel removes solid waste left over from what you eat. Fibre in the food you eat bulks out this waste and helps move it along your bowel more easily. Everyone has a different ‘normal’ when it comes to the frequency of bowel movements (poos or stools). Some healthy people may pass one to three soft bowel motions per day, whereas others may only pass one bowel motion every second day.
Constipation occurs when bowel motions become more difficult to pass or less frequent than usual. Stools can be hard and dry and may be painful to pass.
Other symptoms of constipation can include:
Eating fibre, or ‘roughage’, helps move waste along and helps keep the bowel healthy. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit will generally give you enough fibre to have regular, easy bowel motions. Drinking plenty of water and other fluids also contributes to easy bowel motions. If you eat a lot of meat, or processed and refined foods, there might not be enough fibre in your bowel. And if you don’t drink enough, there won’t be enough fluid within your bowel to soften your stools, making your motions harder and difficult to pass.
Constipation can also be caused by:
Have a talk with your Unichem Pharmacist or doctor if your bowel habits change.
Constipation can usually be relieved by some simple lifestyle changes:
If none of these lifestyle changes work, laxatives can help treat the immediate problem. Laxatives come in different forms such as tablets, powders, granules, liquids, and enemas. There are also different types of laxatives including stool softeners, fibre products and bowel stimulants and they work in different ways and within certain times from a few minutes to a few days.
Your Unichem Pharmacist will be able to advise on the appropriate product for you depending on the likely cause of your constipation, how bad your symptoms are and how long you have had them.
Monitor your laxative intake carefully because overuse can be habit-forming. Once the constipation has cleared, stop taking the laxative and try other remedies, like diet and physical activity, to prevent the constipation from returning.
A change in bowel movements may be the sign of another illness. See your doctor if: