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Constipation & bowel movements

Let's start simply. What exactly are healthy bowel movements? Might sound silly, but if you suffer from consipation or irritable bowel syndrome, then it is a very important one.

Just becuase you don't have bowel movements every day doesn't mean that you are not healthy, have irritable bowel syndrome or any other problems, you may have a prefectly health bowel. Normally, you can expect anything between three times a day to once every three days - it just depends.

Disregarding frequency, bowel movements should:

  • Be regular for you
  • Be properly formed and 'solid' (not hard or loose)
  • Not come with pains in your tummy or bottom
  • make you feel like you've emptied yourself

There are a range of ways in which you can ensure you maintaining healthy bowel movements. These are:

  • By drinking 6 to 8 glasses ( or about 2 litres) of fluid (preferably water) per day
  • Make sure you include dietary fibre like fruit, vegetables, beans, wholemeal breads and cereals in your diet
  • Ensuring you exercise on a regular basis upto four times a week

Of course, it's wise to visit your GP / doctor if you have any concerns. Obviously this is even more important if you find any of the following :

  • Pains before, during or after going to the toilet
  • Blood present in your poo
  • Regular constipation or diarrhoea
  • Incontinence of any kind

One of the most regular bowel issues, Constipation is characterised by hard, dry faeces that are difficult to pass and may also be smaller and less frequent that normal. It may also be that there is some pain experienced during or after the bowel motion. Some of the more common reasons for constipation include:

  • Dehydration
  • A lack of dietary fibre
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Anxiety, depression and grief
  • Long term laxative use
  • Some medical conditions

The first thing to remember if you experience constipation is that it is a symptom and not a disease. The cause or causes of your constipation needs to be identified by your doctor so that treatment can begin.

Incontinence is defined as the involuntary passing of faeces at an inappropriate time or place. Incontinence effects about 1% of the population and can be a very distressing symptom with the effects ranging from physical, emotional, social and financial.

The cause of incontinence is similar to constipation in that it is a symptom and not a disease - as such it must be investigated by your doctor in order for him to identify the cause. Some of the more common causes of incontinence are:

  • Severe constipation
  • Certain medications
  • Diseases of the bowl or nervous system

Before you start any treatments for constipation or bowel problems, it is important to first consult a doctor. Treatments that may be prescribed might vary and include changes in diet accompanied by prescription drugs or simply a change in daily routines (like increasing exercise.)



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