What is constipation?
Constipation is when your poo (also known as stools) does not pass through your digestive system properly. The poo stays in your colon for too long, absorbs water and become hard and dry. This makes it difficult, and sometimes painful, to pass.
It is usually nothing to worry about and you can often treat it at home with simple diet and lifestyle changes.
The symptoms of constipation
The symptoms of constipation include:
- Feeling like there’s a blockage that’s making it hard to go for a poo
- Hard or lumpy poo
- Large or small stools
- Loss of appetite
- Tummy cramps
- Tummy ache
- Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels
Constipation in children and babies
Children may have additional symptoms to the ones we have mentioned above, including:
- Lack of energy
- Soiling themselves
It is very common for children and babies to suffer from constipation and it can be triggered by a number of things, which include:
- Diet - over-fed children or babies, or those that don’t get enough fluids, can become constipated.
- Bottle fed babies - babies fed by a bottle are more likely to become constipated.
- Poor toilet habits - some children can become anxious about using the toilet. They may also hold in their poo because they experience pain when going to the toilet. It’s important to seek help with this, as it will make their constipation worse.
If you are worried about your little one’s constipation, speak to an expert today. At Push Doctor, we offer child consultations, where they can get the treatment they may need and you can get reassurance to put your mind at ease. Find out more about this here.
When should I see a GP?
If you notice any of the symptoms below, you should speak to a medical expert as soon as you can:
- Bleeding from your bottom or having blood in your poo
- Always being tired
- Unexplained weight loss
- Severe pain when passing poo
- Fever and lower abdominal pain, along with thin, or loose poo, as this could be a sign of diverticulitis or another bowel condition
- Constipation after starting a new medication
- If you’ve been constipated for 2 to 3 weeks and have tummy pain and are older or disabled, as it could be a sign of an impacted stool.
What causes constipation?
The reason for your constipation may not always be obvious, but it can be caused by a number of different things, including:
- Your diet - not getting enough fibre or drinking enough fluid
- Ignoring the urge to go to the toilet
- Leading an inactive lifestyle
- Change in lifestyle
- Being overweight
- Being underweight
- Poor health
- Certain medications, like antidepressants, antacids, diuretics, iron or calcium supplements and some opiate painkillers, such as codeine or morphine
Can constipation be a symptom of an underlying health condition?
Constipation if often nothing to worry about and can be treated easily. However, in rare cases, it could be a sign of a health condition, including:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease - crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
- Emotional and psychiatric issues
- Anxiety or depression
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Anal fissure
- Bowel cancer
- A spinal cord injury
If you think that your constipation is being caused by an underlying condition, speak to a GP as soon as possible.