Constipation is more common in people over 60 years of age.

In this article:

What is constipation?

Symptoms

Causes

Diagnosis

Treatment

How Chemist Online can help

Advice & Support

What is constipation?

Constipation is basically an inability to defecate normally. Regular bowel movements may be disrupted in some way, or, although the bowel movements are regular as normal, passing faeces is very painful (a strain each time you try to go to the toilet), or the faeces are watery.

Millions of people across the UK suffer from constipation at some point in their lives, with many suffering more than one episode.

Symptoms

Symptoms of constipation include:

A significant decrease in the frequency of your bowel movements

Straining during bowel movements

Lumpy or hard faeces

A feeling of incompleteness after using the toilet, meaning that you need to return to the toilet to try to empty your bowels fully again

Stomach cramps or bloating

Causes

Causes of constipation include:

A low-fibre diet

Low/insufficient fluid intake

Dehydration at a concerning level

As a post-operative complication

Being elderly

As a side effect of taking certain medications (e.g., antidepressants)

Having a sedentary lifestyle

Irritable bowel syndrome

Depressive illness

Stress and anxiety

Other psychological problems, such as a trauma or fear association with toilets

Also, the menstrual cycle can impact upon a woman’s bowel movements, with constipation sometimes occurring during these periods and also during the menopause (in rare cases).

Diagnosis

Most instances of constipation can be cleared up by taking over-the-counter remedies (laxatives). However, if your symptoms persist, or you are particularly worried about irregularities with your bowel movements, then arrange an appointment with your GP. After talking your medical history they will ask you some questions about your symptoms and then recommend an appropriate treatment.

Where a confirmed diagnosis of constipation proves difficult to establish, you may have a blood test at your GP medical practice, or you may be referred to a specialist for tests (such as a colonoscopy which will allow a trained medical specialist to examine the inside of your large bowel more closely.) Once a confirmed diagnosis of constipation has been made, the specialist will recommend an appropriate treatment.

Treatment

As well as over-the-counter remedies for constipation, the best way to reduce the risk of developing the condition is to maintain a diet that combines fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breakfast cereals, oats and brown rice. Also drink plenty of water.

The usual prescribed medications for constipation are: bulking laxatives and stimulant laxatives. Where over-the-counter types of these fail then a stronger prescribed formula will be tried. This will usually prove successful in clearing up symptoms and helping to stabilise and regulate bowel movements as normal again.

How Chemist Online can help

Through this website we have a range of treatments available to buy which can help ease the symptoms of constipation.

www.chemistonline.co.uk

Advice & Support
Core
Tel: 020 7486 0341
Website: www.corecharity.org.uk

The Gut Trust
Helpline: 0114 272 3253
Website: www.theguttrust.org

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