While not a topic for the break room, constipation is a common problem that usually resolves on its own. But even temporary bouts can prove painful… and be signs of a more serious complication.
If you’re suffering from infrequent bowel movements (3 or fewer a week), or your stools are dry, hard, and difficult to pass, check out these tips for regulating your system.
- Physical activity: It’s the answer to shedding unwanted pounds, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and bolstering immunity, so it’s no surprise that exercise improves regularity. Get the body moving, and your colon will follow suit.
- Fiber: Dietary fiber in foods like apples, bran, whole grains, and beans bulks stools and encourages prompt removal. Plus, research indicates certain types of fermentable fiber support the friendly bacteria that promote intestinal health. Just get enough water — too little combined with a sudden fiber influx can dehydrate.
- Medications: Some drugs like pain relievers and iron pills can inhibit bowel passage, but so can laxatives. While helpful for short–term relief, laxatives and stool softeners actually weaken the bowel muscles over time and diminish nutrient absorption, hampering the waste elimination process.
Seek medical attention if symptoms don’t improve after 3 weeks or if you experience excessive straining, blood in feces, pencil–like stools, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, diarrhea that alternates with constipation, or rectal pain.