Constipation – why does it happen to me? Many things including your diet, underlying health issues, and medications can cause constipation. If you suffer from this digestive disorder, you’re not alone. Constipation is a common digestive problem and affects up to 42 million Americans.
While constipation is sometimes just an uncomfortable nuisance, it results in up to 700,000 emergency room visits each year and in extreme cases, can even result in death. While these extreme cases are rare, you need to pay close attention to your body and what it’s telling you. Constipation is often a sign that something is out of order.
Let’s look at what causes constipation, so you know what to watch for. If you suffer from constipation regularly or for prolonged periods of time, you should consult with a gastroenterologist.
Your Diet Can Cause (and Alleviate) Constipation
Your diet can have a huge impact on whether you suffer from constipation. If you eat a lot of meats, cheeses, and processed foods, you’re more likely to suffer from constipation. Diets high in sugar and fat can increase your risk of growing constipated as well.
Likewise, excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine may cause constipation. Dehydration is also a key factor – so if you’re having trouble relieving yourself, try drinking more water each day.
Also, diets that are high in fiber can help alleviate constipation. Foods such as peas, oranges, broccoli, lentils, and bananas are among many foods that are found to contain high amounts of fiber. You can also purchase fiber supplements to alleviate your discomfort.
Lifestyle Choices May Be the Cause of Your Constipation
Outside of your diet decisions, various other life choices could increase or decrease your risk of constipation. By making the right choices, you may be able to relieve or at least reduce the risk of constipation.
Regular exercise will help reduce constipation risks, while a sedentary lifestyle will increase your risks. You should try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if that simply means taking a long walk at the park. Exercise will provide a lot of other benefits as well. Your joints and muscles, for example, can be strengthened with the right exercises.
Any major life changes can lead to constipation. Our bodies can clog up if you suddenly go through major changes. For example, nearly 10 percent of people experience constipation when they travel to a new country. Most likely, it’s not the local food, weather, and other factors causing constipation but instead, the major change in scenery.
Some people skip or delay going to the bathroom. Maybe you’d prefer not to use public toilets, or maybe you’re just short on time. No matter what, when nature calls you need to listen. Otherwise, you could end up constipated.
Medications Can Lead to Constipation
Both over the counter and prescription drugs can cause constipation. Unfortunately, this digestive issue is a common side effect of many medicines. If you’re taking any prescription drugs, check the side effects and see if constipation is listed. Even if it is not listed, you should ask your doctor or another healthcare professional.
Also, many people turn to laxatives for relief. While laxatives can be effective in a pinch, if you overuse them, it can make your condition worse. Your body could become dependent on laxatives and could start to build up immunity.
Constipated? Get in Touch!
Other factors, including serious underlying medical conditions, could be the cause of your constipation. If you only get constipated occasionally, you might not have to worry too much. However, if constipation is regular and persistent, it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Get in touch with our expert gastroenterologists if you have any questions.