The Myths of Constipation
- Posted on: Jul 16 2015
Feeling backed up is not an enjoyable experience, but at some point everyone has experienced the bloating, gas, and the discomfort that comes with being constipated. Typically caused by slow movement throughout the colon, constipation simply means that you are having a difficult time with bowel movements, or they have been happening less than normal.
The medical definition of constipation is someone who has less than three stools per week. While for those who are severely backed up, constipation is medically defined as experiencing less than one stool per week. Individuals who are constipated often suffer from lower abdominal discomfort, infrequent bowel movements, as well as physiological distress. Straining for a bowel movement is a common occurrence, and when a bowel movement does occur the stools are often small or hard. Having stools that are often small and/or hard increases your chances of anal fissures and rectal bleeding. Even though constipation is a relatively normal life occurrence, there are still myths associated with this condition that can often lead people away from the truth. In order to lay some of these myths to rest, here are the most common constipation myths and the truth behind them:
Myth: Ignoring the urge to go won’t hurt you
It doesn’t matter if you feel too busy, or if you are too embarrassed or uncomfortable to have a bowel movement, when nature calls you should answer it. Ignoring the urge to go can not only make you uncomfortable, but can cause future constipation problems by weakening the “urge” signals over time.
Myth: If I am constipated it means I need more fiber in my diet
While increasing the fiber in your diet can help with constipation, chronic constipation can be an indicator of a more serious problem such as diabetes or a poorly functioning thyroid gland. In rare cases, constipation can also be an indicator of serious illnesses such as autoimmune diseases or Colon Cancer.
Myth: Coffee helps constipation
While it’s true that coffee can help stimulate the muscles in your digestive system to contract, causing a bowel movement, it is not recommended to be used as a fix for constipation. This is because coffee is considered to be a diuretic, which draws liquid out of stools. So if you are constipated, drinking coffee can make the problem worse, not better.
Myth: Constipation causes a build-up of toxins and creates health problems
While many may believe that constipation causes the stools to absorb harmful substances and can lead to diseases such as cancer, asthma, and arthritis, there is no evidence supporting this claim.
Myth: You should have a bowel movement daily
As mentioned earlier, constipation is medically defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, so it is fine to go a few days without one. In fact, what’s “normal” for bowel movements can vary from person to person. One person might go three times a day, another can go once daily, and others can have a bowel movement three times a week.
Before you suffer from another bout of constipation, be sure to read our past article on simple ways to prevent and beat constipation. Even though constipation can be a common occurrence, it is important to call your doctor if you experience sudden constipation with cramping or abdominal pain, and you are not able to pass any stools or pass gas. In addition, be sure to call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- You find blood in your stool
- Your stools are pencil thin
- You experience severe pain with bowel movements
- Constipation is a new problem for you
- Your constipation lasts more than two weeks
- You are losing weight without dieting
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