Health

Everything you need to know about constipation

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Constipation is one of the most common conditions in the United States, affecting people of all ages.

Common symptoms of constipation are hard, small stools, vomiting, nausea, abdominal bloating and straining with bowel movements.

The most common causes include:

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of dietary fiber
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive dairy consumption
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Medication side effects, particularly with antacids, narcotics medication, iron and antidepressants
  • Neurologic conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease

“Constipation could also be a sign of a serious disease such as colon cancer, particularly if there is blood in the stool,” said Dr. Pooja S. DeWilde, family practitioner, Centegra Physician Care. “A person should seek medical treatment for constipation if they’re having fewer than three bowel movements a week, or if they’re having bleeding in their stool.”

DeWilde noted dietary changes people can incorporate into their diet to relieve constipation include increasing fiber intake with fruits and vegetables, with a goal of at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day, as well as eating whole grains, such as bran, and avoiding caffeine and dairy products.

“Exercise is actually one of the key recommendations in avoiding constipation,” DeWilde said. “People should aim at getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

“Lxatives are safe for treating constipation, but they should only be used as a last resort, and only used for the amount of time that it’s really needed,” DeWilde said. “If you’re concerned that you may have symptoms of constipation, or are suffering from constipation, please see your doctor because it’s a very treatable condition.”

Call Centegra Physician Care — nowpartof NorthwesternMedicine — at 815-338-6600 to schedule an appointment.

Centegra Health System : 4309 Medical Center Drive, McHenry, IL 60050 :

815.338.6600 : centegra.org

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