Common ailments


I have been suffering from constipation and painful bloating for the past two weeks. I am an active 55 year old woman and I generally have a good diet. I therefore don’t understand why this has happened?

Constipation is a very common complaint in people of all ages but it does tend to be more prevalent in women and older adults generally. The definition of constipation is opening your bowels less than three times per week or general difficulty passing stools and, indeed, this can cause considerable discomfort and bloating.

The most common causes of constipation are not including enough fibre or fluids in your diet, lack of exercise or changes in your routine that might have altered bowel habit, such as changes to your normal diet. Make sure you are eating a variety of fruit and vegetables and try to include fibre-rich foods such as brown bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and wholegrain cereals. In addition, drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, increasing your intake on hot days or if you are exercising.

It is also important to listen to your body. Don’t ignore the urge to go to the toilet as you may then lose the opportunity. The longer the stool remains in the bowel, the more impacted it will become, making it more difficult to expel.

Other causes of constipation include anxiety, depression or trauma. Constipation can also be a side effect of some medication. If you are taking any medicines you suspect may be causing your constipation then speak to your GP as they may be able to prescribe an alternative. I would advise you visit your pharmacist in the first instance to see what simple remedies they can recommend. If problems persist after that then see your GP to look into other possible causes and suitable treatment.

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