Signs and symptoms of constipation
As uncomfortable and frustrating as it can be, it’s completely normal to experience bouts of occasional constipation throughout your life. While difficulty going to the bathroom or going too little are well-known signs of constipation, it can come with a range of possible symptoms.
How do you know if you’re constipated?
If you have fewer than three bowel movements in a week, or if going to the bathroom is painful (due to hard, dry stools), you might be constipated. Constipation symptoms might also look like needing to go to the bathroom again immediately after a bowel movement or experiencing gas, bloating, or abdominal discomfort.Constipation symptoms:
- Fewer than three bowel movements per week
- Dry, hard stools or excessive straining
- Gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort
- Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels
Occasional constipation is usually nothing to be concerned about. In fact, 80% of people will experience constipation symptoms during their lifetime. However, you should consult with your physician if you experience sudden, unexplainable changes to your bowel movements that persist for more than a week or continually return. These could be signs of an underlying condition.
What causes constipation?
Constipation happens when a stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract. This can cause it to become hard and dry, making it difficult or painful to pass. If you’re trying to pinpoint why you’re experiencing signs of constipation, first look to your medicine cabinet, grocery list, and schedule. The key to managing constipation symptoms is often making small lifestyle changes.
What’s causing my constipation symptoms?
Did you know we’re more likely to experience constipation symptoms the older we get? It must be because we’re so full of wisdom.
Feeling the pressure these days? So does your gut. Your gastrointestinal tract is a nervous system organ (just like the brain), and it can be affected by situational or chronic stress. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and physical activity. These can make a big impact on stress levels.
Exercising for 30 minutes a day can help move things along in your gut. And it doesn’t have to be intense exercise — going for a walk in the morning before work or after a meal can make all the difference.
Your bowel habits could be affected by certain medicines. Talk with your doctor about a change if your symptoms persist.
Changing hormones and the pressure of an expanding uterus can relax the intestinal muscles, causing things to slow down.
Constipation can be a sign that you’re not drinking enough water (or drinking too much of what dehydrates you, including caffeine and alcohol) or not eating enough fiber-rich foods. Keep your digestive system on track by drinking six to eight glasses of water a day and eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Yep, even taking a road trip or vacation can cause things to slow down. When you’re on the go, be sure to stay hydrated, eat at about the same time every day, and fit in some exercise.
Common questions about constipation
Can constipation cause pain?
Sometimes constipation is just plain frustrating. Other times, it can be painful, particularly if you’re having to strain. You may experience:
Constipation can be accompanied by gas and bloating, so your belly might be the focus of your discomfort. Drinking lots of water can actually help lessen bloating and hydrate stools, making them easier to pass.
You might also feel cramping in your bowels. It can be uncomfortable as hard or dry stools slowly make their way through your colon.
Back pain might be caused by a piece of a hard or dry stool that gets stuck in the colon or rectum, adding pressure that can radiate to your lower back. This feels unpleasant, to say the least.
Can constipation make you feel sick?
While a stomachache is a common sign of constipation, vomiting or fever could signal an underlying illness. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms.
What problems can constipation cause?
Constipation can be really uncomfortable. This discomfort can interrupt normal activities, make you feel not quite yourself, and add stress to your day. Dulcolax® puts you comfortably in control with a variety of constipation-relief products.
Excessive straining can cause hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your anus or lower rectum. When you have a bowel movement, you might notice a small amount of blood when you wipe (not a bloody stool). Hemorrhoids can occur with or without pain. If you have questions or think you might be experiencing symptoms consistent with hemorrhoids, consult your doctor.
Don’t wait to seek help if your constipation symptoms persist.