A day after enjoying variety of delicious dishes at your friend’s wedding or after attending a grand birthday party, you might sometime feel uncomfortable and difficulty in emptying your stomach. You will have the urge to go but when you do, you find it hard to empty your bowel; this is because you are constipated. Our lives of constant rush, late night dinners, too much of fat and junk food with less fiber have turned constipation into a common problem.

About constipation

People of all ages suffer from constipation. Constipation means that you are not passing your stool (feces) as often, and as normally you do. During constipation you might have to strain more than usual or unable to completely empty your bowel. Your stool becomes hard, dry, and small in size that is difficult to eliminate. Constipation usually lasts for a short period of time with no long lasting health effects.

Many people think that they are constipated if they do not have bowel movement every day. However, the number of bowel movement per day depends on the person, some may have a normal bowel movement of 3 times a day and for some it may be 3 times a week. Normal bowel movement depends on the food that you consumed; how active you are and many other factors.

Identifying constipation

When you are constipated, besides not able to defecate completely you will feel full and have a reduced appetite.

During bowel movements, you may have a hard time emptying your stomach, straining too much will hurt a little on the go.

You may find drops of blood on the skin of the anus.

Your belly may look little bulged out due to hard and solid fecal matter, which doesn’t defecate easily.

After you are done you may still have the urge to go again. If you think you are constipated, visit your doctor immediately.

Treating constipation

Consuming a fiber rich diet is best during constipation. It is said that men should consume about 38 grams of fiber every day and women should consume about 25 grams of fiber per day.

Make it a point that you include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Eat cereals that contain bran or use bran’s as topping on your food. If you are starting to include fiber in your diet then start slowly and increase gradually to avoid bloating and gas formation. Also remember to drink plenty of water.


If you are suffering from constipation need not worry as it is very common and goes away within few days, but if it doesn’t you need to talk to your doctor immediately. Most of the time you do not require any serious medications, eating high fibrous food and change in life-style can help stay away from constipation.


Few simple steps to prevent constipation are

  • Eat more fibrous food
  • Drink plenty of fluids, which may include water, juice, soups or any other drink
  • Exercise regularly
  • Say NO to alcohol and caffeine as they deplete the water content in the body
  • Never ignore an urge to have a bowel movement
  • Allot plenty of time for a good and relaxed bowel movement
  • Do not take too much of laxatives as it can worsen your condition
  • Avoid food that are high in fat and sugar as they may cause constipation

Constipation in children

Constipation is a very common problem among children. A constipated child has hard and dry stools and it is painful for the child to pass bowel movements.

Treating constipation

Although treatment procedure differs depending on the severity and duration of constipation, dietary changes help to relieve from the symptoms.

Treatment includes eating food like whole grains, bran cereals, fruits, vegetables, and other fiber rich food, and consuming enough water, fruit and vegetable juice to avoid dehydration.

In addition, you should allot time for regular exercise.

Do not ignore urge to have a bowel movement. In severe cases laxatives and enemas may be recommended for a short time

Diagnosis is done based on the severity, age, duration, whether or not blood is present in the stool, changes in bowel habits, or if weight loss has occurred. Most extensive tests are not required to diagnose constipation, medical history and a simple physical examination is all that is needed to identify constipation.

A detailed medical history may include information like duration of constipation, consistency of stool, frequency of bowel movement, and whether or not blood strains are found in stool. Your doctor may also ask about your eating habits, medications, and the amount of physical activity, all these will help him to determine the exact cause of constipation.

The physical examination includes rectal examination with lubricated and gloved finger to check the muscles around the rectum for tenderness, obstruction, and blood strains.

Other extensive tests are usually done in people with severe symptoms. These include performing test like – Sigmoidoscopy to check the large intestine; colonoscopy to look into the entire large intestine; colorectal transit study where you swallow a small capsule and the path of the capsule through your intestine and anus is seen using X-ray study; ano-rectal function test & defecography to see how effectively you are able to push your feces out.

Using laxative is not recommended so try to minimize its use. They should not be used for a long term of period. But bulk forming laxatives are exception to this. Bulk laxatives function naturally to add water to the stool so that they are defected easily.

Bulk-forming laxatives can be used daily either separately or you can add them to your juice and drink. Start with mild dose and gradually increase the dosage every 3 to 5 days until defecation becomes easy.

Remember to drink plenty of water.

Bulk-forming laxative may sometime cause side-effects like bloating or gas formation but this goes away in few weeks. Many wonder whether they can use mineral oil as laxative, you can but only when your doctor prescribes it.

He might recommend the use of mineral oil in case you had a surgery and should not strain yourself during bowel movement. But the major side-effect of using mineral oil is that it causes deficiency of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Using enema doesn’t prove effective for constipation and long-term use of both laxative and enema is not recommended.

The process of digestion starts once you start munching your food. It passes through your mouth, stomach, small intestine, then heads towards the large intestine, and finally out of the body through rectum.

Constipation occurs when your large intestine absorbs too much of water from the food and making it hard and difficulty in pushing it out of the body. The various causes of constipation are;

  • Lack of fiber in the diet
  • Some medications of constipation are pain-killers and anti-depressants
  • Taking calcium & iron supplements
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Milk
  • Change in routine activity due to pregnancy, travel, or aging
  • Abuse of laxatives
  • Not drinking enough water / dehydration
  • Not responding to the urge of having a bowel movement
  • No physical activity
  • Problem in colon and rectum
  • Problem with intestinal function
  • Stroke
  • Stress

Foods that are rich in fiber are listed below

Cereals Fruits Vegetables
Whole-grain cereal, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, wheat or grains bread, oats, maize, braley, whole-wheat Apple, peach, Avocado, guava, apricot, raspberry, fig, date, gooseberry, mango, orange, pear, wood apple, jamun, papaya, pomegranate, plum, peach, kiwi fruit and grapes. Squash, turnip, lady’s finger, raddish, broccoli, beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, broccoli, peas, onion, tomato, brinjal, cauliflower, bitter guard, spinach, beet-root, sprouts

Include these foods in your daily diet for a healthy stomach.