Chronic Constipation – Common Causes and Treatments

Chronic constipation is a health condition in which bowel movements are infrequent, less than thrice a week for several months, and passing stools is difficult. It is one of the most common digestive problems faced in the country affecting approximately 2.5 million people every year.

Causes of chronic constipation
A sedentary lifestyle and a lack of physical activity are the two main causes of persistent constipation. Discussed below are three factors contributing to chronic constipation.

  • Diet – A diet that consists of processed foods, dairy, and meat products may become a cause for chronic constipation. A low intake of fiber is another chronic constipation cause. An excessive intake of coffee and alcohol along with a low intake of water are some other factors leading to constipation.
  • Lifestyle – Often, the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle leads to reduced physical activity. In today’s age, most people stay glued to their laptops, tabs, and cell phones, either due to work reasons or for entertainment. Such activities, which make you sit or lie down for hours at a stretch, are responsible for chronic constipation.
  • Health conditions – A few other causes of chronic constipation are anxiety, depression, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and hypothyroidism.

Treatment for chronic constipation
The following changes in diet and lifestyle may help in chronic constipation treatment.

  • Diet – A high intake of fiber increases the bowel movements by making the stool bulkier. This helps in constipation relief. Eat more fruits and include cereal and whole-grains in the diet. A general norm is to add 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories consumed. However, increase your fiber intake slowly as a sudden rise in the intake may cause bloating.
  • Exercise – Physical activity is one of the main strategies for chronic constipation treatment. It is known to increase the muscle movement in the intestine. Increased muscle movement helps in the faster movement of food from the large intestine. This reduces the water absorbed, thus making the stool soft and easy to pass through the bowel. Exercise also increases the blood flow in the intestine, thereby causing strong contractions that speed up the stool movements.
  • Laxatives – Laxatives are routinely used for chronic constipation treatment. Several categories of laxatives such as fiber supplements, lubricants, stool softeners, and stimulants are in use. They must be taken after a medical advice.
  • Alternative medicines – Several alternative medicines such as the use of probiotics, acupuncture, and fructooligosaccharide exist. However, they are not much well-studied yet.

In a nutshell, chronic constipation is a result of poor diet selection and an inclination towards a sedentary lifestyle. A balanced diet and exercise schedule may help in relieving constipation.

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