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What causes constipation?

What is constipation?

Constipation is the passing of hard, dry bowel motions (stools) that may be infrequent or difficult to pass. Constipation is a symptom, not a disease and can be caused by a number of reasons. 

What causes constipation?

The most common causes of constipation include a medical condition, change in routine, not enough fiber in the daily diet, not enough fluids or a lack of exercise.

Symptoms of constipation

Almost everyone goes through constipation at some point, here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • going longer than 3 or more days without passing stool.
  • hard, dry stools that may be painful to pass
  • straining to pass the motion
  • having to sit on the toilet for much longer than usual
  • the sensation afterwards that the bowel hasn’t fully emptied
  • bloated abdomen
  • abdominal cramps.

Medical causes of constipation 

Constipation is sometimes symptomatic of underlying medical problems. Isabella was born with Spina Bifida Occulta and in her case constipation and incontinence resulted from muscle dysfunction. 

    Other medical conditions that may have constipation side effects include:

    • Irritable bowel syndrome – characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and either constipation or diarrhea or alternating constipation and diarrhea.
    • Encopresis - A condition in which a child resists having bowel movements, causing impacted stool to collect in the colon and rectum and lead to leakage.
    • Problems of the endocrine system – such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or hypopituitarism.
    • Diseases of the central nervous system – such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or stroke are associated with an increased susceptibility to constipation.
    • ‘Slow transit’ – some people naturally pass motions less often than most people. It seems their bowel ‘pacemaker’ may be less active. These individuals are more likely to become constipated with minor changes in their routine.

    Chronic constipation

    Some of the complications of chronic constipation include:

    Fecal incontinence – an overfull bowel can result in involuntary ‘dribbling’ of diarrhea. Common causes of fecal incontinence includes diarrhea, constipation, and muscle or nerve damage.

    Urinary incontinence – the constant straining weakens pelvic floor muscles. This makes the involuntary passing of urine more likely, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing or underlying medical conditions.

    Diagnosis of constipation

    The underlying reason for the constipation must be found and we recommend consulting a doctor. A diagnosis may include:

    • medical history
    • physical examination
    • detailed questioning about medications, diet, exercise and lifestyle habits
    • colonoscopy

    What’s the best treatment for constipation?

    Everybody is different therefore the treatment may vary depending on the root cause of the constipation. A healthy lifestyle is definitely a good place to start, as well as adding fiber and exercise into your daily routine. 

    Isabella (inventor of My Private Pocket) takes a stool softener/laxative and drinks plenty of water for constipation. In the below video Isabella discusses how she manages and treats her constipation by creating a monthly chart to track her bowel movements on a daily basis, because everyday is different.

    If you suffer from chronic constipation from fecal or urinary incontinence we recommend speaking to your doctor. Sometimes these accidents can occur when you least expect and can become very embarrassing, especially for children. This is why Isabella invented My Private Pocket by Hidden. My Private Pocket will allow you to be ready when side effects of stool leakage and urinary incontinence occurs. Children who suffer medical conditions can be impacted by constipation and therefore we need to ensure that they are confidently prepared. 

    Learn more about My Private Pocket here.

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