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Constipation – It’s a Common Problem

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Constipation is when your bowel motions are hard. This can make them difficult to pass. Constipation is a common problem.

Signs and symptoms

  • Bloating and stomach cramps
  • Straining to pass bowel motions
  • Hard and difficult to pass bowel motions
  • Small, hard bowel motions
  • Reduced frequency of bowel motions
  • Painful bowel motions
  • Haemorrhoids

Causes of constipation

  • Insufficient fluid intake
  • Insufficient fibre intake
  • Lack of exercise or mobility
  • Not wanting to pass (holding in) bowel motions
  • Medication eg some antidepressants, antipsychotics, diuretics, and pain relievers
  • Other conditions eg haemorrhoids, depression, and diabetes
  • Emotional stress
  • Pregnancy

What can you do about it?

Some non-medicated treatment options include:

  • Drink more water
  • Eat more soluble, non-fermentable fibre
  • Exercise more and increase mobility
  • Prune juice

Medicated treatment options include:

  • Stimulant laxatives: Bisacodyl (Ducolax, Lax suppositories), Senna (Senokot, Laxsol (senna + docusate))
  • Softener: docusate (Coloxyl)
  • Osmotic agents: Macrogols (Molaxsol, Lax Sachet, Movicol), Lactulose
  • Bulk forming agents: Fibre supplements (Konsyl-D, Metamucil)

Red Flags

See your doctor if:

  • Constipation becomes more severe or painful
  • Bowel motions change (constipation and/or looseness)
  • Black and tar-like blood is visible in your bowel motions
  • You regularly or continually use laxatives

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