Constipation affects over 4 million Americans and it is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems in the U.S. Everyone at some point in their life has experienced constipation. Constipation occurs because the colon has absorbed too much water resulting in dry stools, or because the stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract causing it to dry and harden.
Constipation can mean different things to different people; this is because everybody’s body is different. Constipation is defined as having less than 3 bowel movements a week; severe constipation is having less than one bowel movement per week. Some people who are constipated simply go days without having a bowel movement, while others have bowel movements but they are dry, hard and difficult to pass.
There are a few different reasons that you could be constipated. For most people, it is due to their diet and lack of exercise. Below is a list of possible reasons why you may be constipated.
- You are taking certain medications such as narcotic pain medications, anti-anxiety medications, anticonvulsants and blood pressure medications
- not consuming enough fiber in the diet
- lack of exercise
- not drinking enough liquids
- laxative abuse
- ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement which can eventually become a habit
- certain diseases or conditions such as Diabetes, Scleroderma, MS, Chagas Disease, stroke
Although constipation can be a common problem, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately. These symptoms can be a sign of a more serious medical problem.
- rectal bleeding
- abdominal pain
- unexplained weight loss
So what can you do to relieve constipation? Well for starters, you should go to the doctor to make sure that there is not an underlying medical condition that is making you constipated. If you are given the “all clear” it’s time to add more fiber to your diet. The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25-35 grams. I know it sounds like a lot but after a while it will seem routine. The first thing you should do is eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating oatmeal and whole wheat products can also be good sources of fiber. I recommend doing some research online as to what foods contain high amounts of fiber naturally. At the supermarket, you should be reading the backs of boxes to check fiber amounts. There are many more foods on the market today that contain large amounts of fiber. A good rule of thumb is to choose items that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Additionally, there are certain brands of popcorn, oatmeal, and fiber snack bars that have 9-13 grams of fiber per serving. You can also find some pastas that have 6 grams of fiber per serving, and believe it or not, they actually taste really good.
Your doctor may suggest that you take some over the counter fiber aids to help move things along. It is important that when you add fiber to your diet that you do it gradually and that you drink lots of water. Adding too much fiber at one time can result in excessive flatulence and bloating.
For relief of occasional constipation, you may choose to try an over the counter product. Below is a list of over the counter constipation remedies that can help. To access a coupon for these medications, simply click on the name of the medication. As always, if you do not see your medication listed, please email us at email@example.com – we will be more than happy to try and locate a coupon for your medication.