Why You Might Be Constipated And Not Know It
If I asked you when the last time you were constipated it’s likely that you’d think back to the last time you hadn’t been to the loo for a few days. It could have been when you were having a particularly stressful time at work or maybe the first few days of your holiday when your bowels were readjusting after the change in air pressure on the plane. Whatever the cause, it’s likely that it was a when your bowel movements had stalled for days, your tummy had bloated and you suffered with cramps.
Yet, there are other symptoms attached to constipation that are less widely discussed. For example, you might have regular bowel movements, but it’s more like rabbit droppings or you might suffer with rectal discomfort. Both are signs that you could be constipated. New research from King’s College London found that nearly one in three ‘healthy’ patients were clinically constipated but did not recognise the symptoms. This stat alone proves that it’s much more common than you think.
Chronic constipation is diagnosed over a million times in GP consultations and in 63,000 hospital admissions every year in the UK. However, there is a distinct lack of guidelines surrounding constipation and the symptoms aren’t as well documented as other conditions. As a result, the study also highlighted that doctors can overlook the symptoms and a lot of patients suffer with constipation but go undetected.
“This is important as patients who seek medical care for their constipation-related symptoms may not have their symptoms recognised as constipation by the doctor and, therefore, may not be managed as such,” says Kevin Whelan, Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s and study lead. “This could significantly impact patients’ access to care and treatment.”
So, what are the key symptoms we should look out for? The study outlined: abdominal discomfort, pain and bloating; rectal discomfort; infrequent bowel movements and hard stools; sensory dysfunction; flatulence and bloating; fecal incontinence.
What can you do if you suspect you might be constipated? First and foremost, it’s important to drink plenty of water. “Otherwise your body will take the moisture from faecal matter resulting in strained bowel movement,” explains Shabir Daya, co-founder of Victoria Health and registered pharmacist.
A lack of fibre is another common cause of constipation, so upping the amount of whole grains, fruit and vegetables in your diet will help. It might also be worth considering taking a supplement such as Complete Fiber Cleanse to help relieve constipation and cleanse your colon. “The powder is a comprehensive blend of both soluble and insoluble fibres, together with green foods such as spirulina and chlorella to alkalise and detoxify the gut, and has a probiotic base to cleanse the gut,” explains Daya.
There are several other natural ways to ease constipation, read Shabir’s feature on How To Alleviate Constipation Naturally to find out.