When You Can’t “Go”
Constipation is clinically defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week or when your stool is hard. When you’re “backed-up” you can feel bloated and have a dull pain in your belly. Constipation is very common and is usually treated successfully with home remedies and lifestyle modifications.
“Fiber plays the biggest role in keeping you regular and most people don’t eat nearly enough fiber,” says Dr. Vishwas Vanar, a gastroenterologist at UCF Health. “Aim to increase fiber in your diet through fiber-rich foods. And drink more water! Water is the lubrication that keeps everything moving.”
Four Ways to Avoid Constipation:
1. Get more fiber in your diet. Aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day from food sources — not supplements. Foods like apples, pears, beans and oats are high in fiber.
2. Drink lots of water. The old rule of eight glasses a day is a good goal, but if you are constipated you need more. You will also need more if you are physically active or sweating. Let thirst be your guide.
3. Exercise. When you move, you help keep things moving through your GI system.
4. Buy a squatty potty. Yes, it really works! A significant portion of constipation stems from a condition called pelvic floor dysfunction. Assuming a squatting position while having a bowel movement helps improve the mechanics needed for success.
If you can’t get enough fiber in your diet, your doctor can suggest a fiber supplement that is right for you. Excessive fiber supplementation may cause unnecessary bloating. Always consult with your physician before starting any dietary supplements.
If your constipation doesn’t go away with these lifestyle modifications, see your doctor. They may suggest a short-term use of a laxative. If you have extreme pain, bleeding, fever or low back pain, seek immediate medical care.
While short bouts of constipation are normal, if it is persistent, you should tell your doctor as it could be a symptom of another medical problem. Also, certain medications can cause constipation, including pain medicines and dietary supplements. Having a conversation with your doctor about these things can help you find relief.
UCF Health offers gastroenterology care from its two offices in Orlando.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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