Constipation is a common digestive system problem in which you have infrequent bowel movements, pass hard stools, or strain during bowel movements. In terms of frequency, what constitutes constipation for one person may be normal for someone else. That’s because the normal frequency of bowel movements varies widely — from three a day to three a week. What’s normal for you may not be normal for someone else.
In general, though, you’re probably experiencing constipation if you pass hard and dry stools less than three times a week. In some cases, constipation also may make you feel bloated or sluggish or experience discomfort or pain. Fortunately, a few common-sense lifestyle changes, including getting more exercise, eating high-fiber foods and drinking plenty of water, can go a long way toward preventing or alleviating constipation.
Signs and Symptoms
- Infrequent, difficult passage of stools (fewer than three bowel movements a week)
- Sudden decrease in frequency of bowel movements
- Stools harder than normal
- Bowel still feels full after bowel movement
- Bloated sensation
Normally, the waste products of digestion are propelled through your intestines by muscle contractions. In the large intestine, most of the water and salt in this mixture are reabsorbed because they’re essential for many of your body’s functions. If too much water is absorbed or if the waste moves too slowly, you may become constipated. You may also experience constipation if the muscles you use to move your bowels aren’t coordinated. This problem is called pelvic floor dysfunction (anismus) and it causes you to strain with most bowel movements, even soft ones. Stool moves through your colon but gets hung up in the rectum because of a lack of muscle coordination to empty your bowels. A number of factors can cause an intestinal slowdown, including:
- Inadequate fluid intake
- A low-fiber diet
- Inattention to bowel habits
- Lack of physical activity
Many medications, including those used to treat Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure and depression, also can cause constipation. The same is true of many narcotics. And frequent use of laxatives often aggravates and may even eventually cause constipation.
In rare cases, constipation may signal more serious medical conditions, such as colorectal cancer, hormonal disturbances or autoimmune diseases. Sometimes young children are constipated because they forget to take time to use the toilet. And your toddler might become constipated during toilet training if he or she is afraid or unwilling to use the toilet.
Integrative Medicine Treatment Options
We combine the best of conventional medicine with the best of complementary and alternative therapies to give you optimal results.
Here are some options we use at Alliance Integrative Medicine LOCATED IN Cincinnati, Ohio
- Medication, Herbal Therapies and Supplements
- Energy Healing
- Mind/Body Relaxation Techniques
- Medical Massage Therapy
Our constipation patients come to us from Mason, Indian Hill, Hyde Park, Loveland and Westchester/Liberty Township as well as Terrace Park, Blue Ash, Finneytown, Reading, Springdale and from locations all over the U.S.