Breaking the cycle of constipation
Constipation has many causes. The most common of these include not eating enough fibre or drinking enough fluids. At the same time, not getting enough exercise and sometimes ignoring the urge to go to the toilet can cause constipation. Laxatives can get your bowel working in the short term but in the long term, simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can provide effective constipation relief. It may take a few weeks before your symptoms improve.
However, you may notice a difference within a few days. We call this “breaking the cycle of constipation”.
Changing your diet
Making changes to your diet can make your stools softer and easier to pass.
- Keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
- Increase the amount of fibre in your diet. You can do this by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Another way is to switch to wholemeal breads, wholegrain rice and whole wheat pasta.
- Eat a high fibre cereal for breakfast for example one that contains bran.
Increase your activity
- Start exercising more. A short walk is one of the easiest ways to do this. A brisk walk can also help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier. A brisk walk is about 3 miles per hour, just faster than a stroll.
- Think of ways to include more walking in your Walk to the shops, use the stairs instead of the lift and leave the car behind for short journeys.
- If you have painful joints, check out your local swimming pool.
Improve your toilet time
- Stick to a regular time and don’t rush things, give yourself plenty of time to go.
- Do not delay if you feel the urge to pass
- Try resting your feet on a low stool while going to the toilet. Raising your knees above your hips can make it easier to pass stools.
Bristol Stool Form Scale
It can be difficult sometimes to understand if your stools are normal. The Bristol Stool Chart is an easy way to understand if you are suffering from constipation. It helps indicate how long the stool has spent in the bowel, with Type 1 having spent the longest time in the bowel and Type 7 the least. Type 3 & 4 are generally considered as "normal", whilst if your stools look like Type 1 or 2, you're probably suffering from constipation. Types 5, 6 and 7 tend toward diarrhoea.
If you or your child have any of the below, it is recommended you see your GP.
- Symptoms are not improving with treatment
- You are regularly constipated and it lasts a long time
- are bloated and it lasts a long time
- You have blood in your poo
- You have unexpectedly lost weight (or a child has not grown or gained weight)
- You feel very tired all the time
13th August 2019