Constipation is the inability to have regular bowel movements, to the extent that it could cause annoyance and health problems. Is there a fixed rate for defecation for everyone? Not really. Some people defecate 2-3 times a day, others 2-3 times a week. What matters the most is that you’re not having problems or complaining due to the inability to evacuate your bowels.

What’s the problem with constipation? Or, why is constipation dangerous to your health? When you have too much accumulation of stools in your colon, it’s like keeping toxins in your body. Some of which could move into your blood stream and cause problems like headache or bad breath, or general issues, like feeling exhausted or being in a bad mood most of the time. Stool retention over long periods of time can cause dangerous health problems as well. One of the possible risk factors of colon cancer is thought to be bad nutritional habits and chronic constipation. Also, with chronic constipation some people end up having problems like anal fissures or haemorrhoids. The accumulation of stool masses due to untreated constipation due to for example intestinal obstruction, especially in elderly people, could result in acute deadly complications, like faecal vomiting, in which the patient would throw up his own stools. And this is a very dangerous sign and need immediate medical treatment, or else the patient would die.

 Causes and reasons of constipation are based on three main points:

  • Inadequate water intake
    People who don’t drink enough water are often constipated
  • Inadequate activity or exercise
    People who don’t move enough to provide stimulating massage to the intestines using the abdominal muscles
  • Malnutrition
    A lack of certain elements, that could be vitamins or minerals or fibres

The most important elements for your intestinal functions are mainly fibres, vitamin D and calcium. People who are put on a strict diet will notice that they have sluggish bowel movements as well. Also guys who use whey protein at the gym will get constipation as a side effect.

Women are more likely to become constipated than men. That’s probably due to the female and pregnancy hormones, and the birth control pills. Unfortunately they cause our intestines to become slower or more sluggish. So you probably see many women who are suffering from constipation most of the time. Even though they might not have any bad health habits, yet they would still have to do some extra effort to get the process done.

Some women who have uterine fibroids, or myomas – myomas are benign tumours of the uterus – those tumours can squeeze up against the colon and cause chronic constipation. That’s why I’d recommend that women with family history of fibroids visit their gynaecologist to make sure there’s nothing in the uterus hindering their bowel movements.

Hypothyroidism, or slow thyroid gland, pregnancy, and some intestinal diseases in general, or any general health issues could cause constipation. That’s why if you’re suffering from any general disease, you should consider constipation symptoms and take them seriously.

Some medications could cause constipation. So, it would be a good idea for those who use any over-the-counter medications to read the patient info leaflets, in order to make an educated decision. Remember: antacids, antidepressants, iron tablets and painkillers can cause constipation.

Some people won’t have any known reason for constipation. It’s just their body nature. That’s why I’d suggest following to them:

How to cure chronic constipation:

The most important thing is to get rid of the reason.

Move enough, drink enough healthy fluids, eat healthy foods, and restore what you might lack of vitamins and minerals.

Here are also some good habits to consider:

Try using the toilet in a certain time of the day every day, for example in the morning, before going to work. Listen to soft music or even listen to the water drops dripping from the tap.

Research claims that if you seat on the toilet seat with a 70° angle, or less, with your feet lifted on something that relaxes the pelvic floor muscle, that would help you to excrete easier.

Some people say that they feel relieved if they massage their abdomen. How would you massage your abdomen? Here’s the right way. As you can see here, these are parts of the colon. There’s the ascending colon, transverse colon and the descending colon. And that’s the direction of traffic. If you massage yourself the right way, it will help you. So, you can start massaging your abdomen from your right side, then upwards, then to the left side, and then downward, so, clockwise.

Don’t ignore your urge to go to the toilet whenever you feel it. Whenever you feel like going to the toilet you MUST GO.

Nutrition is very important. That’s why I will tell you what we should eat that helps in the excretion process. It’s really very important to eat fruits that contain fibres, such as bananas and oranges. Dried fruits like dates and plums and raisins, they’re also very good. I’d also suggest seeds like sesame seeds or black seeds. Also oils are very important. We can increase the amount of vegetable oils in our food, and that will help our bowel movements. Herbs like peppermint and thyme are excellent for you. We can also use honey.

There’re also useful over-the-counter medications like bran. Bran is very beneficial as a medicine as well as for nutritional purposes. Also we should always consider having enough calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D is the sun vitamin, so you should sit in the sun for some time everyday to make enough vitamin D. Some people use over-the-counter medications like milk of magnesia. It should be able to help you with the excretion process. Also others say that they are relieved with aloe. It comes in the form of gel or you can prepare it at home if you have an aloe plant. You can scrape a small teaspoon of aloe, mix it with a big glass of water and drink the mix. But be very careful not to overdose because this would cause diarrhea.

You shouldn’t have constipation for a long time, and you should not rely on medications to relieve it, because this will cause your intestines to lose their normal movement over time. You can find several over-the-counter medications for your tough constipation in the pharmacies and drug stores, but please don’t rely on them on the long run. Try to depend mainly on a healthy lifestyle as the best way to facilitate your excretion process.

Constipation could be a symptom for a serious illness if it’s acute or unusual.

For the problem of chronic constipation that has no apparent cause the best way is to learn to deal with it with some extra health awareness. And make sure to observe your diet and see what affects your bowel movements to the better or to the worse. Try to see what makes you constipated and avoid it. Keeping a healthy pattern of your bowel movements will save you from many health problems like haemorrhoids, anal fissures and perhaps cancer.

I wish you good health!

Alyaa Gad