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What is constipation & what can cause it?

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Constipation can be a very common symptom however it is not one to ignore.

Constipation is the passing of hard, dry bowel motions (stools) that may be infrequent or difficult to pass.

Common Symptoms of constipation include:
→ needing to pass bowel movements less often than usual
→ hard, dry stools that may be painful to pass
→ straining to pass the bowel movement
→ having to sit on the toilet for much longer than usual
→ the sensation afterwards that the bowel hasn’t fully emptied
→ bloated abdomen
→ abdominal cramps

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Lifestyle-related causes of constipation can be caused by many different factors that often work in combination, including:

→ A CHANGE IN ROUTINE
Normal bowel motions depend on the regular and rhythmic contraction of the bowels. This is part of the body’s internal ‘clock’ and can be disrupted with changes in routine.

→ LOW-FIBRE DIET 
As fibre is indigestible, it adds bulk to the faeces, making it more easily pushed along the digestive tract. There are two broad types of fibre; soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre helps to soften the faeces. Good sources of soluble fibre include legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the faeces, helping it to move more quickly through the bowel.
Also worth noting that sufficient water is necessary for moving faeces out of the bowels. Constipation can occur from a high-fibre diet if insufficient water is consumed.

→ LACK OF REGULAR EXERCISE 
Living a sedentary lifestyle or being restricted in movement due to a disability can be common causes of constipation.

→ PUTTING OFF GOING TO THE TOILET
Ignoring the urge to go means that more water will be reabsorbed from the stool over time, making them hard, and more difficult to pass. Regularly ignoring this urge may make the body less sensitive to normal signals to go to the toilet.

→ MEDICATIONS 
Some medications such as narcotics (particularly codeine), antidepressants, iron supplements, calcium-channel blockers (antihypertensive) and non-magnesium antacids are known to slow bowel movements, clogging up the bowels.

→ PREGNANCY 
The action of hormones, reduced activity and the pressure of the growing uterus against the intestines mean that constipation can be common during pregnancy.

→ ADVANCING AGE 
Constipation tends to be more common in the elderly. This is due to a number of factors, including reduced intestinal muscle contractility and reliance on regular medications.

→ ILLNESS 
A period of illness, particularly an illness resulting in hospitalisation and bed-rest, typically results in constipation. Factors include change in routine, shyness, reduced food intake, pain (especially after abdominal surgery), and pain-relief medication such as morphine.

Gut Repair can assist with maintaining bowel regularity to address constipation with its signature blend of fibres, prebiotics, enzymes and healing nutrients.

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