- Common Ailments Service
Constipation is a common condition affecting people of all ages. If you are suffering from constipation, please continue reading for more information regarding the condition and the treatment options available...
What is constipation?
Constipation is a common condition that affects people of all ages. The severity of constipation varies between individuals. Many people will only experience constipation for a short time, but for some people, constipation can be a long-term (chronic) condition that causes significant pain and discomfort and affects quality of life.
The symptoms vary from:
- not passing stools regularly
- unable to completely empty your bowel
- your stools may be hard and lumpy/unusually large or small
Who is affected by constipation?
Constipation can occur in babies, children and adults. It’s estimated that around 1 in every 7 adults and up to 1 in every 3 children in the UK is constipated. The condition affects twice as many women as men and is also more common in older adults and during pregnancy.
What causes constipation?
Identifying the exact cause of your constipation may be difficult. However, there are a number of things that contribute to the condition, including:
- not eating enough fibre, such as fruit, vegetables and cereals
- a change in your routine or lifestyle, like a change in your eating habits
- ignoring the urge to pass stools
- side effects of certain medications
- not drinking enough fluids
- anxiety or depression
In children, poor diet, fear about using the toilet and problems with toilet training can all lead to constipation.
How can I treat constipation?
Making changes to your diet and lifestyle are usually recommended as the first steps for treating constipation. This includes gradually increasing your daily intake of fibre, making sure you drink plenty of fluids, and trying to get more exercise.
If these aren’t effective, you may need to book an appointment with your GP to be prescribed an oral laxative medication to help you empty your bowels. Treatment for constipation is effective, although in some cases it can take several months before a regular bowel pattern returns.
Should I seek medical advice?
You may be able to treat constipation yourself by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle (see above). If these changes don’t help and the problem continues, you may benefit from a telephone consultation with one of our team. (link to call back form)
You should speak to your GP if you are concerned about your health, or if you think your child might be constipated.
For most people constipation rarely causes complications, but people with long-term constipation can develop:
- haemorrhoids (piles)
- faecal impaction (where dry, hard stools collect in the rectum)
- bowel incontinence (the leakage of liquid stools)
If you are suffering from constipation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by booking a free telephone consultation with one of our experienced pharmacists for advice and support.