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Constipation is said to occur if bowel movements have reduced to less than three times in a week. The stool may also be difficult to pass, and harder than normal.
CausesConstipation may occur due to the following reasons:
- Lack of exercise and physical activity
- Eating too much dairy products
- Little or no fiber in the diet
- Problems in the muscles of the digestive system
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Eating disorders
SymptomsThe following symptoms may occur:
- Straining while having a bowel movement
- A feeling that the bowel movement was incomplete
- Passing stool less than three times a week
- A diagnosis can be made based on your medical history, details about your symptoms and your diet (including fiber and water intake).
- The abdomen may be examined for bloating or distension. A rectal examination may also be carried out.
- Blood tests may also be used to check hemoglobin and thyroid levels.
- In some cases, a barium enema study may also be recommended to check abnormalities in the colon.
The following methods may help in treating constipation:
- Regular exercise.
- Adding more fiber to the diet, and improving water intake.
- Having psyllium husk (ispaghol) with water once or twice a day.
- Laxatives in the form of bulking agents, lubricant laxatives, or stool softeners may be recommended.
When to consult a doctor?
A doctor should be consulted if:
- You experience bleeding due to a tear in the anus (anal fissure).
- The veins of the anus are swollen (hemorrhoids).
- You have rectal bleeding.
- The number of bowel movements in a week becomes less than three.