Constipation is a topic that can be difficult to discuss, but it is very common. It’s important that we do talk about it, as a healthy functioning bowel is fundamental to good health. Normal bowel function means that a soft, well-formed stool is passed at least once per day.
Constipation usually occurs because too much water is absorbed from the lower bowel. This can happen if food moves through the digestive system too slowly. The bowel motions then become too dry and hard.
There are many factors that can cause or worsen constipation. The three most common are:
- Not eating enough fibre.
- Not drinking enough water.
- Not doing enough physical activity.
Other causes include stress, anxiety, grief, delaying the urge to go to the toilet, long term laxative use, side effects of medicines, pregnancy, being overweight, imbalance of gut bacteria and irritable bowel syndrome. That’s a long list. No wonder we talk to so many customers about it every day.
Severe constipation is the most common cause of faecal incontinence (or bowel leakage), especially in older people. This is sometimes mistaken for diarrhoea. It occurs when hard bowel motions are difficult to pass and may cause a partial blockage higher up in the bowel, resulting in watery bowel motions flowing around the constipated stool without warning.
What we can do to get things moving again:
- Increase dietary fibre, water and exercise.
- Bulk forming laxatives such as psyllium. The best one is Motion Potion, as it combines psyllium with probiotics and some herbs to help constipation.
- Osmotic laxatives such as Movicol.
- Stimulating laxatives such as Coloxyl with Senna (for short term use only).
- Probiotics, especially certain strains, will restore the right balance of bacteria that are needed for good digestion, absorption of nutrients and normal bowel motility.
Talk to us in the pharmacy about the treatment options that would be most suitable for you.