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What is constipation?

Constipation is usually described as having fewer than three bowel movements in a week. Constipation occurs when the stool becomes too hard and dry. Your stool will become dry if it moves too slowly through the digestive tract or stays in the colon for too long. If you are experiencing fewer than three bowel movements in a week we recommend contacting your nearest gastroenterologist. You can find a local gastroenterologist through GI Alliance.

What causes constipation?

There are a few reasons why your stool would move slower than normal through your digestive system. Some reasons for constipation include:

  • Nerve damage around the colon or rectum
  • Colon cancer
  • A bowel obstruction
  • Anal fissure
  • Rectal cancer
  • Rectum bulge through the back wall of the vagina
  • Narrowing of the colon

How can I relieve constipation?

Incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle can help relieve bouts of constipation. Some healthy habits to adopt to help you avoid constipation include:

  • Drinking more water
  • Avoiding dairy
  • Eating more dietary fiber
  • Taking probiotics and prebiotics
  • Regular exercise

Some over-the-counter medication options are a great solution to constipation, but we recommend consulting with one of our gastroenterologists first because constipation can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition.

What foods are high in fiber?

If you are looking to add more high-fiber foods to your diet, the following foods may be of some benefit:

  • Apples, peaches, raspberries, tangerines
  • Acorn squash, raw broccoli, raw Brussels sprouts, raw cabbage, raw carrots, raw cauliflower, raw spinach
  • Cooked zucchini, cooked black-eyed peas
  • Kidney beans, lima beans
  • Cold All-Bran, Total Bran Flakes, whole-grain cereal, hot oatmeal
  • Wheatena®, whole-wheat bread, seven-grain bread

To learn more about changing your nutritional habits, please contact GI Alliance to connect with one of our licensed dietitians.

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When should you see a GI doctor about constipation?

Most people will experience constipation at some point during their lives. However, chronic constipation can be a sign of something far more serious. If you have been experiencing constipation on an ongoing basis, please visit a gastroenterologist as soon as possible. In addition to being able to diagnose and help manage your condition, your gastroenterologist will be able to test and screen for any, more serious ailments. To find a gastroenterologist near you, contact GI Alliance.

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