16 Reasons for Constipation: Why And What To Do

Constipation is very common these days with our busy schedules.  People don’t make the time to eat the foods that are necessary for optimal food breakdown and elimination.   In some cases it can be caused by a disorder of bowel dysfunction and/or a structural problem. Here are some reasons for constipation:

•    Obstructed nerve and muscle function in the bowel.
•    Not drinking enough water.
•    Not enough fiber in the diet.
•    Changes in diet regular diet (traveling).
•    Sedentary lifestyle (decrease physical activity)
•    Eating large amounts of dairy products.
•    Increased Stress.
•    Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement.  This can result in hemorrhoids
•    Overuse of stool softeners which decrease bowel muscle strength.
•    Hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
•    Too much calcium or aluminum
•    Strong pain medicines, narcotics, anti-depressants or iron pills).
•    Depression.
•    Eating disorders (disrupt bowel function)
•    Pregnancy.
•    An obstruction in the colon (cancer)

What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?

•    Infrequent bowel movements and/or difficulty having bowel movements.
•    Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain.
•    Pain.
•    Vomiting.

If you have constipation for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor so he or she can determine the source of your problem and treat it.  It can become dangerous if you are unable to release your bowel.

How Can I Prevent Constipation?

1. Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereal (especially bran). Fiber and water help the colon pass stool.

2. Drink 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water and other fluids a day.  Drinks which have caffeine should be avoided because they dehydrate you.  as dairy products may be constipating for them.

3. Get into an exercise program.

4. Do not hold in your bowels.  Go to the bathroom when you need to.

What Should I Do If I Am Constipated?

•    Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day (unless fluid restricted).
•    Try warm liquids, especially in the morning.
•    Add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
•    Eat prunes and/or bran cereal.
•    If needed, use a very mild stool softener or laxative (such as Peri-Colace or Milk of Magnesia). Do not use laxatives for more than two weeks without calling your doctor, as laxative overuse can aggravate your symptoms.

Sometimes I have patients with this problem and in most cases, they have lumbar or pelvis misalignments.  After consulting them about their diet, a gentle adjustment to their hips and lumbar spine allows the constipation subsides.  It can really be that easy!  Adding the proper foods and making sure the body is aligned properly may make the difference.  Call our Redwood City Wellness Center for more information.