Should we be moving our bowels every single day? Should we do it at the same time every day? What if we don’t go to the bathroom for two days in a row, is that worrisome? The truth is, what’s normal for one person may not be for another. Let’s define what is normal and when to be concerned about constipation.
Exactly What Is Constipation?
Normal bowel movements are a personal thing. You might move your bowels twice a day, and that is “your” normal. Someone else might only move their bowels every other day, and this is normal for them. When something changes, pay attention.
Constipation is not a disease, but it is a symptom that something else may be occurring. If your bowel movements are less frequent than normal and your stools become harder to pass, you are experiencing constipation.
Causes Of Constipation
Seniors seem to have more bouts of constipation than younger adults. There are multiple reasons a person can become constipated. As we identify them, consider that doing the opposite will most likely keep you “regular.”
Accepted common causes of constipation include the following:
- Lack of fiber in the diet can slow down the digestive system and prevent it from functioning normally.
- When you get older, many people are not as active and don’t get enough exercise, resulting in a slower metabolism and constipation.
- Women in general and women who are pregnant with changing hormones seem to become constipated more easily.
- Not drinking enough water can cause constipation.
- Changes in a regular routine, like traveling, can lead to constipation.
Certain medications like antidepressants, strong narcotic pain meds, antacids, and many OTC meds can cause constipation. Consult with Digestive Health Services about any prescription, over-the-counter medications, and any medical conditions you may have, as they may cause constipation.
When To Be Concerned About Constipation
There are circumstances which should make you concerned and cause you to seek advice and treatment from Digestive Health Services.
If you have made some lifestyle changes, like getting more exercise and consuming more fiber, without any relief from constipation, it is time to be concerned.
If you have blood in your stool and severe stomach pains, this is a red flag. If you are losing weight without trying, you should be concerned. Vomiting and bloating is another sign that you should see a physician.
Anyone can have short term bouts of constipation, but when it becomes chronic or you are experiencing red flags, this should be of major concern.