The Warning Signs That You’re Constipated
Do you need to make a bowel movement but simply can’t go? Check out this article to explore the signs that you’re constipated.
It’s hard. It’s dry. It comes around infrequently.
No, we’re not talking about that bad sandwich roll you get sometimes at the deli. We’re talking about your stool.
Constipation is one of the most common issues plaguing our bowels. Some 42 million Americans suffer regularly from a stopped up stomach. And some people don’t even realize they have a problem.
If you’ve always had issues doing the deed when it comes to #2, you may not even realize that there’s something wrong with your gut. And there is a ton of misinformation about this common ailment floating around the internet.
We’re here to set the record straight. Keep reading to learn about the common warning signs that you’re constipated. And what you can do about them.
Constipation Education: Causes and Risk Factors
Many people believe that constipation is only caused by a few issues, like dehydration and fiber deficiency. And, while water and fiber are important to a healthy bowel, they’re not the only causes of constipation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the causes and risk factors.
Fiber is essential for bowel health. Fiber binds to digested food inside the colon and increases the weight and size of the stool. It also softens the stool and absorbs water, allowing the stool to move smoothly through the colon.
People who have issues getting enough fiber often have diets high in dairy products, meats, and processed foods. If this is the type of diet you’re used to, you’re at a higher risk of developing constipation at some point in your life.
Drinking plenty of water is also important for colon health (well, for your overall health too). When you become dehydrated, the stool becomes hard in your bowel, making it more difficult to pass.
But all liquids are not created equal. Certain liquids like alcohol, coffee, and other caffeinated drinks can contribute to constipation. And if your daily drink regimen includes lots of these drinks, you’re more likely to develop constipation.
Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies. It contributes to serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. And it’s also a known cause of constipation.
Stress can cause your body to slow down, meaning the muscles in your bowel slow down too. This leads to harder stool and less frequent bowel movements. To lower your risk of a stopped up bowel, keep stress down to a manageable level.
Exercise (Or Lack Thereof)
Move your body, move your bowels!
If you get very little exercise, you’re at a higher risk of becoming constipated. Exercise improves blood flow throughout the body. And it can help promote more frequent bowel movements.
Changes in your regular routine can change the way your body functions. When you travel, you’re more likely to eat different foods that your body isn’t used to.
You’re also more likely to have an upturned routine, eating and sleeping at different times of day than normal. These changes can cause your bowels to go out of whack.
Certain medications cause constipation. Some of these include:
- Pain medications, particularly the opioid variety
- Iron supplements
- Certain antidepressants
- Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy
You’re at greater risk to develop a stopped up bowel if you have one or more of the following medical conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis or other neurological conditions
- Celiac disease or other gluten intolerances
- Colon Cancer
Warning Signs: How to Tell When You’re Constipated
People who deal with regular stomach issues may not even realize that they’re constipated. If you experience any of the following warning signs, see your doctor right away to discuss treatment for constipation.
The Strain Game
If your typical bowel movement involves pushing, straining, and grunting, you might be constipated. Bowel movements are supposed to happen naturally and on a regular basis. There should be no grunting involved.
Straining while pushing out stool is an indicator that your stool is too hard or too large. And this ultimately means that something in your colon isn’t working properly.
Less Isn’t Always More
If you’ve noticed a significant drop off in the amount of stool you see during a typical bowel movement, you might be constipated. This drop off could also be caused by eating less or loss of appetite, which is also a sign of constipation.
You also might notice fewer bowel movements over time. Doctors say that everyone should have at least three bowel movements per week. Anything less than that could be constipation.
The Bloat Is Real
We all have our days where we feel a little bloated. But daily bouts with bloating and gas are not normal. If this is something that you deal with regularly, you might have an issue with constipation.
A Pain in the Back
Back pain is often associated with constipation. The longer you go without a bowel movement, the bigger and tougher the stool gets inside your colon. These hard lumps can cause real pain in your lower back as they move through your system.
Dry and Hard and Lumpy… Oh My!
The most recognizable sign of bowel issues is a change in the consistency of your stool. Constipation tends to make your stool into large, dry lumps. And after a few days without a bowel movement, these lumps can get larger and harder, causing you significant issues passing them.
Treatment & Prevention: Keep Blockages at Bay
Talk to your doctor about treatment for constipation. They may prescribe laxatives to help move the existing blockages through your system. Another way they might treat you is by prescribing a daily probiotic, or a stool softener to help you have more regular bowel movements.
To prevent future issues, incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. These foods are full of dietary fiber which helps move your bowels along. Also, cut back on the coffee and add more water to your daily routine.
Exercise for a little bit every day. Before you go on vacation, plan ahead and bring along a light laxative to keep you regular during your time away from home. Manage stress by taking breaks at work, working fewer hours, and doing regular breathing exercises.
Never ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. When you do this, your body has to store the stool longer, making it harder to pass. And doing this on a regular basis could train your body to stop moving the bowels altogether.
Get Rid of Constipation, Live a Happier Life
Remember, it’s not normal to be constipated. If you experience any of the signs of constipation we’ve listed here, talk to your doctor right away. Get your bowels back on track and live a happier, healthier life!
If you’re looking for more health advice, check out our Health Blog. We offer tons of great tips and advice to keep your body strong and healthy.