Constipation isn’t the easiest thing to talk about, but if you’re stopped up, you’re not alone. This common health nuisance has affected around 80 percent of people at some point.
So chances are, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Wondering why things are slower-moving than usual? Here are a few common culprits, plus how to remedy the situation:
People can have irregular bowel habits because of stress. That’s due to your enteric nervous system, a complex player in the health of your gastrointestinal system.
Stress or lack of sleep (or both, since they are so often linked), can influence your enteric nervous system, and that interplay may make it much harder to go to the bathroom.
If you’re on the hunt for relief, try to de-stress yourself like finding a balance between rest and activity or unplug yourself from the office.
You’ve Fallen Off the Exercise Wagon
There are some people who are on a consistent exercise schedule and become constipated when they stop. Changing what your body is used to can affect various systems in your body, including making your intestines process food differently.
You already know exercise is good for so many reasons, so just add this one to the mile-long list.
When you’re about to jet off somewhere, the last thing you’re thinking about is how much the dietary change can wreak havoc on your system.
Lots of people have a diet they follow most days with a good amount of fiber that keeps them regular. When they go on vacation and eat things they’re not accustomed to, that can lead to a change in bowel habits.
The main fix is making sure you’re getting enough fiber, which is 25 grams a day for adult women.. If you know you’re going on a trip but you eat a fiber-fortified cereal every morning or something of that nature, be aware of that and even consider taking some along with you.
Although many women experience constipation early on in pregnancy, some deal with it for most or all of the experience.
There is so many changes to hormones and diet, plus stress’ effect on the enteric system can come into play. If you’re pregnant and feeling particularly blocked, keep track of when you’re feeling the worst — is it after super greasy pizza, or maybe lots of ice cream?
Avoiding the foods that you notice bring it on can help keep you comfortable throughout your pregnancy.
You’re on Pain Meds
If you just had surgery or you’re on long-term pain medication, this might be causing you to feel stopped up. If you’re on pain medication like opioids or narcotics, that’s an extremely common cause for constipation.
We’re talking about medication that’s used for more severe or long-term pain, so popping a few ibuprofen for soreness shouldn’t affect your regularity.
If you’re having this issue, talk to your doctor to see if they can prescribe a stool softener to take in conjunction with your meds.
Water is so important to achieving your optimal health, so there’s no way it wouldn’t make this list!
The most interesting part is that it isn’t just about simple hydration; what really matters here is its link with the all-important fiber. Fiber tends to bulk with water.
If you’re getting enough fiber in your diet but not enough water, that can potentially affect the way fiber passes through your system, leading to constipation. So drink up!
Your Thyroid’s Out of Whack
If various constipation causes have been ruled out, an internist may check to see if your thyroid function is normal. Sometimes, hypothyroidism is to blame.
Hypothyroidism, a condition brought on by an underactive thyroid gland, can often cause constipation. A properly functioning thyroid releases hormones that are linked to various processes in your body, including your digestive system.
Without enough of these vital hormones, your intestines may weaken and slow down.
You Have a Chronic Condition
If your constipation is persistent and accompanied by pain, head to a gastroenterologist. They may diagnose you with a digestive disorder like Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS). Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a very common disorder that can be either diarrhea-predominant or constipation predominant.
That can lead to prolonged periods of time where you aren’t going to the bathroom normally. If you suspect you have IBS, don’t try every OTC remedy on the shelves – just head to a doctor.
They can get to the root of the problem and come up with a treatment plan to manage your symptoms.
Thankfully, the fix for most constipation is simple: eat healthy, drink lots of water, and get your 25 grams of fiber daily from diverse sources.
It comes in two forms: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water (like oats, apples, and beans), and insoluble fiber (like wheat, broccoli, and many dark leafy vegetables).
Most people need a mix of both to keep everything running smoothly. But if you’re dealing with prolonged constipation, skip OTC treatments from the drugstore.
There are various laxatives that you can buy, but if this becomes a permanent issue, it’s really best to see a physician make sure everything’s all right.