When experiencing constipation, people often think that this is caused by not eating enough fiber or drinking enough water. But aside from the dietary reasons, there are many other factors that can limit bowel movement.
In a report published by the American “Live Strong” website, Jaime Osnato reviewed 6 causes of intestinal obstruction while presenting strategies to combat this digestive problem, according to the recommendations of the gastroenterologist Nickel Comta.
1- Not getting enough exercise
Comta reports that “sedentary lifestyles are associated with constipation, and strategies that include increased exercise have shown improvement in its symptoms.” He suggests doing between 20 and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 3 times a week, to maintain a healthy digestive system.
2- High levels of stress
During moments of intense stress, the adrenal gland produces more adrenaline, a hormone responsible for the fight-or-flight response, which causes blood flow in your body to redirect from the digestive system to other vital organs, such as the heart, lungs and brain, thus slowing the bowel movement and causing constipation.
“Mental health should be given priority to those experiencing severe stress, and health care providers can help provide treatments, psychological coping mechanisms and behavioral modifications to alleviate them,” Comta says.
3- Delaying going to the bathroom despite the need
The doctor himself warns that ignoring the urge to defecate can contribute to the development of constipation. If the delay is frequent, then the problem may be related to trying to avoid the pain associated with stools sometimes, as a result of, for example, dry stools or hemorrhoids.
“Constipation is second only to nausea, as the most common digestive problem during pregnancy,” as 40% of women suffer from constipation symptoms during pregnancy, due to hormonal and physiological changes in the body, Komta reported.
5- A specific medical condition
No wonder underlying digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, cause constipation. But non-intestinal health issues may slow bowel movement as well.
Perhaps that is what Comta asserted, “It may be that disorders of the endocrine system, or the nervous system, are all related to constipation, including hypothyroidism, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and others.”
Similar to emotional stress, mental disorders, such as depression, can strain the gut. According to Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, a third of those with depression also suffer from chronic constipation.
6- Taking some medications
According to Comta, some medications may cause constipation, including anticholinergics, opioids, calcium channel blockers, iron supplements and some antidepressants. The elderly are more susceptible to the side effects of these drugs on the intestine, because they often take them at the same time.
How to fight constipation
1- Drink more water, including at least 8 glasses.
2- Increase the amount of fiber consumed. He recommends eating a diet containing 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes are rich sources of fiber.
3- Increase mobility, by practicing at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 3 times a week.
4- Not to delay going to the bathroom, especially in the morning.
5- Using a footrest in the toilet, which straightens the angle between the anus and the rectum, allowing for easier bowel movements, according to Comta.
If you suffer from persistent or chronic constipation, and it does not improve through these measures, or if the bowel movement is painful, if there is blood in the stool, or if your weight changes, see a doctor immediately.