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Constipation Causes and Treatments

Exactly What is Constipation?

Constipation is the term employed when there is difficulty in passing stools and the stools tend to be very hard and /or lumpy. They can appear to be small, almost like rabbit droppings, or large.

Bloating of the stomach sometimes accompanies constipation which causes the sufferer further discomfort.

A condition that the majority of people experience occasionally can turn into a major issue for those who frequently or constantly encounter it. This, of course, can be both embarrassing and truly painful for the person experiencing it.

Affecting women more than men, constipation is also common in the elderly.


Lifestyle plays a major part in causing constipation. It really is essential to eat a healthy diet and to have regular exercise. Activity helps to stimulate the bowels into passing softer faeces as does the correct amount of fibre in the diet.

Lack of liquid intake.

Half a dozen coffees and an alcoholic drink is not as beneficial as a pint or two of ordinary water. In fact, both coffee and alcohol have a dehydrating affect on the body, which in itself can aggravate or cause constipation.

Medication can also be a cause of constipation. If you suspect this could be the reason for your constipation, then talk to your doctor or health advisor.

Stress and anxiety are other important factors. If you are experiencing constipation, make sure that it isn't being caused by a stressful lifestyle. Simply ignoring the need to go to the toilet is another factor that should not be overlooked.

Some serious medical conditions of the colon and rectum may also be the cause of constipation.

If your bowel actions have changed with the above causes being ruled out, see your doctor as soon as you can. There really is no need for embarrassment.

In addition to these possible causes of constipation, there are also a number of long term illnesses and conditions that could be triggering it.

Again, check with your doctor in order to eliminate underlying medical issues.

Self Help

Check out your lifestyle.

- Are you getting enough exercise? Taking a brisk twenty minute walk each day can be really beneficial

- Are you eating the right foods? The body needs foods that contain fibre in order to keep regular. Today's highly processed foods simply compound, and in many cases, may even be the cause of constipation.

Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables so as to ensure that you are getting the right amount of fibre in your diet.

Magnesium has been shown to soften stools, thereby easing constipation. Foods high in magnesium are buckwheat flour, spinach, almonds and pumpkin seeds.

A deficiency of folic acid is also known to cause constipation. Foods high in folic acid are spinach, sprouts, broccoli, and green beans.

Why not try substituting roast root vegetables for regular potatoes, french fries etc. Whole grain rice or wheat provides both fibre and essential vitamins. A mix of roasted diced sweet potato, swede, squash, onion etc can work wonders and taste delicious

- Are you drinking enough water? It doesn't have to be cold. Lots of people enjoy a mug of boiled hot water, perhaps flavored with a herbal tea bag such as mint or chamomile. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day

- Are you regularly visiting the toilet when you need to - or are you delaying this because its simply inconvenient?

Keep in mind that everyone experiences constipation from time to time and as such, it is normal. If you have been experiencing constipation for more than two weeks, however, then you would be well advised to consult your doctor or health advisor in order to eliminate any serious underlying causes.


Fruit such as figs and prunes - or syrups and preparations containing these - can be extremely effective in treating constipation.

Short term treatment may include mild laxatives taken daily for a brief period of time. These are particularly helpful for those convalescing from surgery or for the elderly. Generally in a liquid form, some of these merely give the stools a coating which allows them to be passed easier.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist as to which laxatives are most appropriate for you.

The above aids are readily available over the counter at your local pharmacists, however, if you are buying laxatives in this manner frequently, it indicates that you really do need to see a doctor and get your condition sorted out medically.

A doctor is able to prescribe various types of laxatives or other treatment which are specific to different forms of constipation.

For impacted stools, where they are hard and have accumulated in the bowel, suppositories or enemas may be required. Again, these should be used with advice from a health professional.

A doctor may conduct numerous tests and examinations because certain serious conditions - such as tumors - can be masked by constipation.

Babies and Children

This article refers to constipation in adults. For concerns over babies and young children with constipation please consult a health visitor or doctor as soon as you can.

IMPORTANT: This information is not a replacement for proper medical or nutritional advice. Be sure to consult your doctor or health care advisor if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of constipation for any length of time.

About Author Peter James Field :

Peter Field is a leading British hypnotherapist with busy clinics in London and Birmingham, England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health and Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. For a FREE self hypnosis download visit: <a href="" target="_blank"></a> or more of his informative articles and other useful information may be found on his website: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Monday, July 26, 2010
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