What is constipation?
With obstipation there's a lot less bowel movement than usual. The stool accumulates in the large intestine, which causes a bloated feeling, abdominal pain and cramps. Constipation can usually be treated quite well and often without medication.
What are symptoms of constipation?
- Abdominal pain
- Harder, dryer stool than usual
- Pain defecating
- Having to push harder
- Having the feeling that you haven't emptied your bowels completely after defecation
- Thin stool
Is constipation serious and should I see a doctor
Obstipation usually isn't serious and can be treated perfectly well at home. When symptoms persist or change it might be good to contact a doctor.
Contact a doctor:
- Complaints persist for over 2 weeks
- Complaints that don't subside despite the measures you've taken
Immediately contact a doctor:
- Blood in the stool
- Vomiting blood
- No urination for over 12 hours
- Pregnancy and abdominal pain
- Pain radiating towards the chest and shoulders
- Abdominal pain that gets worse
What can I do about constipation myself?
- High fiber diet
- Drink at least half a gallon of water a day
- At least 30 minutes of physical exercise each day
- Regular eating pattern:
- Eat at set times
- Eat 4 or 5 small meals instead of 3 large meals
- Don't postpone defecating, go shortly after you feel the urge
- Try not to use medical laxatives, but natural laxatives like high fiber food and using oil instead of butter
- If you do use laxatives, use them as short and as little as possible
How does constipation affect my body?
With constipation stool accumulates in the large intestine. This causes pressure on the intestinal wall, causing abdominal pain and cramps. The stool is often dry and thick. Laxatives have different working mechanisms, some irritate the intestinal wall, which causes the intestines to push the stool out quicker, others cause there to be more fluid in the stool, which makes less dry and thick and it easier to push out.
The danger of long-term use of laxatives is that the intestines become 'lazy' so to speak, which causes you to become dependent on the laxatives. There are laxatives that don't bear these risks though, a doctor can tell you more about these laxatives. The more laxatives you use, the more risk you run of experiencing side-effects.