What is constipation?

Constipation is a condition characterised by hard-to-pass stools. These stools stayed too long in your colon, causing them to absorb water and become dry and hard. They cannot exit properly through your body due to this. Constipation makes pooing difficult and even painful at times.

 

Constipation is often not a serious medical condition. It is highly-treatable at home with simple changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Symptoms

Expect to experience these symptoms if you have constipation:

 

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach aches and cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling the urge to poo but also feeling a huge blockage that prevents you from doing so
  • Hard and lumpy stools
  • Large or small stools
  • Unable to completely empty your bowels and feeling like there’s more to pass even if you’ve passed a few stool pieces

Children and babies

Constipation is common in kids and babies. In addition to the symptoms earlier mentioned, young ones may also experience:

 

  • Irritability
  • Soiling themselves
  • Lack of energy

 

Children and babies are predisposed to constipation through a variety of factors, including:

 

  • Poor toilet habits– Toilet-trained kids may still feel anxious about using the toilet. Things may get even worse when they hold their poo in due to the pain caused by constipation. Get medical help because their constipation will indeed worsen if they hold in their bowels.

 

  • Diet– Babies who are overfed tend to get constipated. The same goes for babies who lack fluids and water intake.

 

  • Bottle-feeding– Babies who are bottle-fed are more predisposed to constipation.

 

Speak to a doctor if you are worried about your kids’ constipation. Online video consultations with a Mobidoctor physician can help ease your worries. Your child can get the needed treatment and you’ll also get reassurance about the condition.

When should I see a GP?

See your physician as soon as possible if you experience the following:

 

  • Severe pain in passing your stools
  • Blood in the stools or bleeding from the anus
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • A feeling of being always tired
  • Constipation after taking new medications

 

You may have an impacted stool if you are an elderly person with stomach pain and have been constipated for 2-3 weeks already. See your doctor immediately to get checked.

 

Other bowel conditions such as diverticulitis may be characterised by thin loose stools accompanied by lower abdominal pain and fever. Again, have yourself seen by a physician in these cases.

Causes

There are plenty of factors that may cause constipation. You may not initially pinpoint them right away, though. Such factors include the following:

 

  • Dehydration or not drinking enough fluids and water
  • Not enough fibre in the diet
  • Inactive, couch potato lifestyles
  • Drastic lifestyle changes
  • Being either underweight or overweight
  • Generalised poor health

 

Medication intake may also cause constipation. These medications are often the culprits:

 

  • Iron or calcium supplements
  • Diuretics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antacids
  • Opiate painkillers such as morphine and codeine

Complications

Constipation in itself is a mild condition and is not significantly worrying. However, rare cases may make it a symptom of other digestive problems such as:

 

 

Other conditions that may present with constipation include the following:

 

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Haemorrhoids or piles
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Hypercalcaemia
  • Anal fissures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Bowel cancer

 

Talk to your GP as soon as possible if you think you have any of these underlying conditions.