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Constipation

Constipation
Constipation

Diarrhea is a common topic to discuss in Indonesia. What about constipation? It can cause discomfort and problems too.

Constipation is when you have changes in your bowel habits. It is about how you poo, including not pooing as often or finding it hard to poo. It’s common and it affects people of all ages. You can usually treat it with simple changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Check if it’s real constipation

Constipation is likely if:

  • you have not had a poo (open your bowels) at least 3 times during the last week or you’re pooing less often than usual
  • the poo is unusually large or small and the consistency is dry, hard or lumpy
  • you are straining or in pain when you have a poo
  • you feel like you haven’t fully emptied your bowels

Some people will have stomach aches, and feel bloated or sick. Constipation can be easily missed in someone with dementia or an older person. Look out for any behavior changes. Confusion could mean pain or discomfort.

What causes constipation

Constipation in adults can have many possible causes, but it can also happen without a clear reason. Possible causes include:

  • not eating enough fiber (fruits, vegetables)
  • not drinking enough fluids
  • not moving enough, little activity or exercise.
  • ignoring the urge to go to the toilet
  • change in diet
  • a side effect of medicine
  • stress, anxiety or depression

Constipation is common during pregnancy and after giving birth. It is also more common if you are black or if you are over 65 years old.

How you can treat and prevent constipation yourself

Changes your diet and lifestyle. You may notice a difference within a few days, but it can take longer.

Make changes to your diet

  • eat a healthy diet including fiber, fruits such as apples, apricots, grapes (and raisins), raspberries and strawberries
  • drink plenty of water and other fluids and avoid alcohol
  • add some wheat bran, oats or linseed to your diet

Improve your toilet routine

  • Keep to a regular time and place and give yourself plenty of time to use the toilet.
  • Do not delay if you feel the urge to go to the toilet.
  • Try resting your feet on a low stool while going to the toilet.

Consider increasing your activity

  • A daily walk or run can help you poo more regularly.

Speak to a GP (Good Practice) for advice

  • Speak to a trusted medical practitioner if diet and lifestyle changes are not helping.
  • They can suggest a suitable laxative. These are medicines that help you poo more regularly.
  • Most laxatives work within 3 days. They should only be used for a short time.
  • When there is unintentional weight loss
  • When you feel tired all the time
  • When you are taking medicine that’s causing constipation – such as opioid painkillers

Complications of long-term constipation

Long-term constipation can lead to impaction of stool. Stool or poo has built up in the last part of the large intestine (rectum). The main symptom is diarrhea, which leaks through. This may be treated with:

  • stronger laxatives
  • a suppository – medicine you place in your bottom
  • a mini enema – where fluid is passed through your bottom, into your bowel

A healthcare professional removing some of the poo – this is not something you should do yourself.

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