Constipation» Find a nutritionist dealing with Constipation
Constipation slows down regular bowel movements.
If you have constipation you may discover a number of changes to your natural digestive patterns.
- Firstly, you may find that you pass stools less often.
- Secondly, you may notice that passing stools is difficult and painful and causes you to strain.
- Thirdly, you may pass stools that are harder and more compact than usual.
Constipation is extremely common. 1 in 10 people in the UK are believed to experience it on a regular basis1.
The condition ranges in severity from mild to serious. For many people, constipation goes away very quickly. For others, the condition is chronic, disruptive and can lead to further complications.
Constipation can be treated by making certain changes. For example- by eating more fibre and exercising more often. In some cases, prescribed medication may be required.
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More often than not, constipation is nothing to worry about; however, if it continues for too long then it could cause the following complications:
Faecal impaction occurs when small lumps of hard, dry faeces collect in the rectum and anus. This creates a blockage that narrows the channel and essentially plugs the back passage. These hard pellet-like lumps are nearly impossible to remove naturally and will usually require medical treatment.
This makes the act of passing stools even more difficult and can cause physical damage and further complications, including:
- bleeding from the anus
- swelling of the rectum
- rectal prolapse (this is when the lower intestine partially collapses and protrudes from the anus due to excessive straining)
- faecal incontinence (uncontrollable leaking of liquid stools)
- loss of sensation in and around the anus.
Haemorrhoids are small lumps that gather in the lower rectum and anus. They occur a result of excessive straining, which causes the blood vessels to swell. You may have haemorrhoids if you notice the following symptoms:
- swelling of the anus
- itching around the anus
- pain in the anus
- bleeding from the anus.
Children and constipation
A child or baby with constipation may experience the following symptoms:
- seeming more angry/irritable than usual
- loss of appetite
- foul-smelling wind and stools
- pain or discomfort in abdominal region
- accidents/soiling clothes
- feeling unwell in general
- lack of energy.
If you notice these symptoms then it is advisable to take your child to the GP. The GP will attempt to diagnose a cause and ensure there are no serious underlying conditions.
If your child has faecal incontinence then in can have a psychological impact. They often frequently soil their clothes in public and as a result, may experience bullying at school.
If you notice changes in your child’s behavior (if they become shy, withdrawn), then try to encourage them to speak openly about their problems to you. You may also consider informing the teacher about the condition, or try talking to a counsellor.
Living with constipation
Treating constipation could improve the quality of your life. There are a number of ways you can treat constipation.
The most important of these is your diet.
Constipation is often caused by a deficiency in fibre. The recommended daily intake of fibre is 18-30g a day. To up your fibre intake, try:
- beans, pulses, chickpeas
- fresh fruit and dried fruit
- cereals (bran)
- whole wheat bread (bulking agents help make stools softer and easier to pass).
(Not alcohol or caffeine.) Try to drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid a day. That equates to six to eight glasses. Water or unconcentrated fruit juices are recommended- especially prune juice, which is full of fibre.
Constipation is often caused by a lack of physical activity. Moving around will help get the bowels moving. Brisk walking, cycling and swimming are excellent forms of exercise as they put the least amount of pressure on joints and burn lots of calories.
Constipation can cause severe abdominal pain and often the quickest way of reducing this is by taking a painkiller. Try paracetamol but always follow the directions on the accompanying leaflet. (Children below the age of 16 are not supposed to take asprin.)
Get into a routine for using the toilet. If you pass stools regularly at the same time everyday, your body will become used to the pattern. If you feel an urge to pass stools, do not repress it because they will become even more difficult to pass at a later date.
How can a nutritionist help?
A nutritionist will discuss your symptoms with you and find a way to combat the problem by issuing a personalised meal plan specific to your individual requirements. Education is the first step towards treating constipation. A nutritionist will teach you about the nutritional value of certain foods so you can reclaim control of your life and choose the right products to suit your needs. A nutritionist will try to sift through the speculations, fads and nutritionist myths in order to deliver expert advice relevant to you.
All content displayed on Nutritionist Resource is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional. Whilst some people have benefited from nutritional therapy, no claims can be made to treat, cure or heal specific conditions, and we strongly advise individuals with any health problem to seek independent medical advice from their GP before considering nutritional therapy.Submit feedback on this page