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Help for those in need of constipation relief

Constipation is a common problem for more than 4 million Americans each year. Many of those who report suffering from it are women aged 65 or are recovering from surgery; constipation during pregnancy is also quite normal. Most cases of constipation can be treated with over-the-counter laxatives, a change in diet or both. Everybody experiences constipation at some time in their life.

Causes of Constipation

Constipation is a symptom and not a disease; it's defined as having fewer than three bowel movements in a week and is most often caused by a lack of exercise and a poor diet. Other causes include:

  • Insufficient amounts of dietary fiber
  • Milk
  • Medications
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of exercise (especially in seniors)
  • Changes in routine or lifestyle (travel, aging, pregnancy)

Constipation occurs any time the colon absorbs too much water, often due to weak muscle contractions of the colon. When the stool passes too slowly an excess amount of water is removed and the stool becomes dry and hardened by the time it reaches the sphincter.

Due to the hard and dry nature of the stool, it causes those suffering from constipation to have to strain to empty the colon. This may lead to bloody constipation or even rectal prolapse among those that suffer from chronic constipation.

Constipation Relief

Most bouts of constipation are not serious and can be treated by drinking more water, ingesting more fiber or by using a mild over-the-counter laxative. The best constipation remedy is to ensure that you have an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet. The easy way to do this is to make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. You should eat 20 to 35 grams a day of foods like asparagus, cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts, beans, whole grains and bran breads and cereals. By following that advice and exercising regularly you'll give yourself the closest thing available to a constipation cure.

Infants and toddlers who experience pediatric constipation can also do well with small dietary changes. Babies two months old and above should have a daily dose of apple juice. Children one year old and older should have fruits and vegetables three times a day as well as bran muffins, cereals, oatmeal and brown rice.

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