Constipation is nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about as it can affect anyone at any age. Constipation can be defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week or having difficulty passing stool. Constipation can be acute, meaning it is short-term, or chronic, meaning it is long-term.
There are different types of constipation that you should be aware of, and in this article, we’re going to cover the different types of constipation, as well as what treatment options you have if you ever experience any of them.
Types of Constipation
We’ve split constipation into three main types, as well as providing a definition for each one:
This is the most common type of constipation and is caused by problems with the muscles and nerves that control bowel movements. People with normal-transit constipation may have difficulty passing stool, a sense of urgency, and straining.
This type of constipation is caused by problems with the way food moves through the intestines. If you have slow-transit constipation, you may have complex, dry stools that are difficult to pass, a feeling of fullness after eating, and bloating.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Constipation
This type of constipation occurs when the muscles around the anus and rectum are too weak or too tight to allow regular bowel movements. Typically, people with pelvic floor dysfunction constipation may have a feeling of obstruction in the rectum and pain during bowel movements.
What Causes Constipation?
Your colon and rectum are responsible for absorbing water from your digested food and forming stool. The muscles in your colon then push the stool out through your rectum. If your digestive system isn’t working properly, stool can stay in your colon for too long. This means that more water is absorbed from the stool, making it hard and difficult to pass.
Some medications can actually cause constipation. They can do this by either altering the water balance in your intestine or influencing the smooth muscle contractions of the GIT. If you are on medication and experiencing constipation, you may want to discuss this with your doctor to see what your other options are and if there are ways to prevent it.
Shortage of Fiber
Fiber helps to keep your stool soft and easy to pass. It does this by adding bulk to the stool, which helps it move through your rectum more smoothly. Without enough fiber, your stool can become hard and dry, which can make it difficult to pass.
Lack of Physical Activity
There are studies out there that show physical activity can decrease your chances of getting constipation. This isn’t to say you will never experience it; you are less likely to. Even simple exercise like walking can help.
Underlying Medical Conditions Known To Cause Constipation
There are also other types of constipation that can be caused by underlying medical conditions. Here are a few of them:
- Neurological disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Thyroid problems
What To Do If You Are Constipated
If you are experiencing constipation, it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause and get the appropriate treatment. However, there are also some treatment remedies that you can do yourself to help.
With a cause of constipation being a lack of fiber we would suggest you try and add more fiber into your diet. Excellent fiber sources include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Make sure you are hydrated. This will help to soften your stool, making it easier for you to pass. You can take a look at what the recommended amount of water per day is with this Harvard study.
If possible, try to do some more exercise. Whether that entails you going to the gym or simply just getting out for a walk, any movement could help. Thirty minutes a day as a minimum is recommended.
It goes without saying that if you feel the urge to go to the toilet and you are constipated, don’t hold that urge in. Go to the toilet as often as you feel you need it. By holding your stool in, it can make the problem worse.