How Common Is Constipation In Pregnancy
About 16 to 39% of people get constipated at some point during pregnancy. Youre most likely to get constipated in the third trimester, when the fetus is heaviest and putting the most pressure on your bowel. Constipation can happen in all three trimesters, though. Sometimes, youll continue to be constipated up to three months after the babys born.
Drink A Glass Of Water
Proper hydration is necessary for regular bowel movements. Researchers recommend about 1.8 liters or about seven to eight 8-ounce glasses of clear liquid per day. The exact amount your body needs can depend on your size, sex, and whether or not youre pregnant or breastfeeding. If youre constipated and havent been drinking an adequate amount of water, consuming a large glass of water or other clear liquid may trigger a bowel movement.
Constipation Produces The Following Symptomswhich Can Cause Stomach Pain
This cause of stomach pain that is annoying and irritating. These arent usually too much trouble unless:
- A fever is present
- Cramping lasts more than 24 hours
Stomach cramps usually come from constipation, gas, indigestion, and bloating.
This results from backed up stool in the colon.
This backed up stool causes problems with the whole gastrointestinal tract. The regular function of moving food into the digestion processes is slowed down, which can result in nausea.
The following can also cause nausea:
- Distension of the colon
- A bowel obstruction
A full feeling
When constipated, have you experienced a bloated, distended stomach? Then in a few hours perhaps it gets worse, as your stomach starts feeling even tighter and starts to hurt.
This tight sensation makes you feel heavy and full. Sometimes you might skip a meal because you feel so full and by skipping a meal can cause a hunger headache and dehydration.
This can cause severe stomach pain. Constipation can cause intestinal blockages at any point in the colon.
These can block the intestinal track from passing waste material, fluids or gas along the digestion pathway, producing sharp stomach pains.
Gas build up
This can be caused by constipation. Yeast in the colon ferments the stool, and a byproduct of fermentation is gas. When this gas cant be expelled, it produces pressure and pain.
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How Common Is Constipation
You are not alone if you have constipation. Constipation is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. At least 2.5 million people see their doctor each year due to constipation.
People of all ages can have an occasional bout of constipation. There are also certain people and situations that are more likely to lead to becoming more consistently constipated . These include:
- Older age. Older people tend to be less active, have a slower metabolism and less muscle contraction strength along their digestive tract than when they were younger.
- Being a woman, especially while you are pregnant and after childbirth. Changes in a womans hormones make them more prone to constipation. The baby inside the uterus squishes the intestines, slowing down the passage of stool.
- Not eating enough high-fiber foods. High-fiber foods keep food moving through the digestive system.
- Taking certain medications .
- Having certain neurological and digestive disorders .
Take A Fiber Supplement
Fiber supplements are readily available and at inducing bowel movements if a low fiber diet is the cause of your constipation. They work by adding bulk, or volume, to your stool. This helps push stool through your intestines and out of your body.
You can buy fiber supplements in stores or online. Here are a few common ones:
- calcium polycarbophil
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Stop Taking Certain Medicines Or Dietary Supplements
If you think certain medicines or dietary supplements are causing your constipation, talk with your doctor. He or she may change the dose or suggest a different medicine that does not cause constipation. Dont change or stop any medicine or supplement without talking with a health care professional.
Q: How Can I Prevent Or Get Rid Of Constipation
A: Dr. Zutshi emphasizes the big three: Water first. Fiber next. Exercise third.
- Water: Drink a lot. Juices, water, tea and coffee count toward your water intake. People who have normal bowel movements should aim for at least 64 to 80 ounces of water daily. Those who tend to be constipated should drink more.
- Fiber: If you cant get enough fiber from food, talk to your doctor about a supplement. Good supplements to try include Metamucil®, Citrucel® or Benefiber®.
- Exercise: Increasing your exercise can be as simple as walking more. You dont need to be a hardcore athlete.
If you think youre having issues with constipation, Dr. Zutshi advises you to be proactive.
See a gastroenterologist to figure out if everything is OK. And if you have not had a colonoscopy, and youre over 50, its time to schedule one.
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Remedies And Treatments For Stomach Pain And Gas
Most stomach pain and gas will go away on its own, but there are steps you can take to ease discomfort and prevent future gas pain. Gas-related stomach pain remedies include:
The only way to get rid of gas is to pass it. Donât hold it in. If youâre worried about odor, try reducing foods that contain sulfur-producing compounds such as broccoli, cabbage, and beer.
Many gas-relieving products are marketed, but scientific evidence of their effectiveness is limited. Many people claim to experience relief, so they may be worth trying. The most common medications that claim to relieve immediate symptoms are activated charcoal and simethicone .
Peppermint and peppermint oil have the best record as digestive aids, but there are many other foods that may help. In one study, Chinese herbal formulae outperformed placebos in soothing IBS symptoms. Commonly included ingredients are:
- Wearing ill-fitting dentures
Enzymes Before Eating Certain Foods
Taking enzymes before you eat can help you better digest your meal. Most enzymes are only available for those with a medical condition that prevents them from producing their own. However, two widely available enzymes for problematic foods are:
- Lactase supplements can help those who are lactose intolerant.
- Alpha-galactosidase supplements can help people digest legumes.
Fiber Is Not Always The Answer
If adding fiber to your diet in the form of food orsupplements makes you more bloated and blocked than before, there are a numberof potential reasons. For example, in slow transit constipation, a conditionwhere the bowel does not move things quickly through, fiber sits in your gut andcan make you feel worse.
Long story short: If fiber makes you worse, dont just addmore. See your doctor.
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Complications Of Chronic Constipation
Some of the complications of chronic constipation include:
- Faecal impaction the lower bowel and rectum become so packed with faeces that the muscles of the bowels cant push any of it out.
- Faecal incontinence an overfull bowel can result in involuntary dribbling of diarrhoea.
- Haemorrhoids constant straining to open the bowel can damage the blood vessels of the rectum.
- Urinary incontinence the constant straining weakens pelvic floor muscles. This makes the involuntary passing of urine more likely, especially when coughing, laughing or sneezing.
Take A Laxative Stimulant
Laxative stimulants are designed to force a bowel movement by squeezing the intestines and may take up to 6 to 12 hours to take effect. You can get stimulants over the counter at your local pharmacy. Some popular options include:
, laxative stimulants are primarily recommended for severe constipation that doesnt respond to other treatment methods. You also shouldnt use laxatives until possible secondary causes of constipation have been ruled out.
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How Can Exercise Help Constipation
Exercise helps constipation by lowering the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. This limits the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool. Hard, dry stools are harder to pass. Plus, aerobic exercise speeds up your breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural squeezing of muscles in your intestines. Intestinal muscles that squeeze better will help move stools out quickly.
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For Serious Constipation There Are Options
If your constipation is severe and does not improve withchanges to your diet and lifestyle, there may be other options that you candiscuss with your doctor. Surgery is the very last option.
A wide range of laxatives are available, plus there arepro-motility drugs that a doctor can prescribe. Sometimes at-home remedies canbring relief, too, like dietary vegetable or mineral oil to lubricate thebowels.
Heres the bottom line: Try simple fixes first, but if theyfail, dont suffer needlessly. If you think your bowel movements are not whatyou would consider normal, discuss it first with your primary care physician, whocan talk with you about treatments or refer you to a specialist who can helpget your bowels moving again.
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Gas Pain: When To See A Doctor
Veloso says to be on the lookout for abdominal pain and bloating that persists even after constipation improves.
You may have celiac disease or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth , which can cause these symptoms and can occur with either constipation or diarrhea. You may also have irritable bowel syndrome or another problem, she notes.
Dietary And Lifestyle Modifications
Diet: Eating regular well-balanced meals and snacks with high-fibre content, as outlined in Canadas Food Guide, available on the Health Canada website, and maintaining an adequate fluid intake, is the recommended approach to prevent and manage constipation.
Exercise: Exercise helps move food through the colon more quickly. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, accelerates your heart and breathing rates, and helps to stimulate the natural contractions of intestinal muscles.
Physiotherapy: Pelvic dysfunction physiotherapy may include bowel retraining, electrical stimulation, and posture correction.
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Drinking A Hot Beverage
With a few caveats, this tip makes sense. If the hot beverage contains caffeine , this can help. Plus, if you drink enough hot drinks like tea, you’ll increase your water intake which is a good thing for softer stools. But there’s nothing about the temperature of the drink which eases constipation, so keep that in mind.
Is This Your Child’s Symptom
- Can’t pass a stool or pain when passing a stool
- Crying when passing a stool or
- Can’t pass a stool after straining or pushing longer than 10 minutes or
- 3 or more days without passing a stool
- Caution: any belly pain from constipation comes and goes. Most often, it is mild. Use the Abdominal Pain care guide if there is constant belly pain.
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How Long Will I Need To Take Laxatives For
If you’ve had constipation for a short time, your pharmacist will usually advise you to stop taking the laxative once your stools are soft and easily passed.
However, if your constipation is caused by an underlying medical condition or a medicine you’re taking, your GP may advise you to take laxatives for much longer, possibly many months or even years.
If you’ve been taking laxatives for some time, you may have to gradually reduce your dose, rather than coming off them straight away. If you have been prescribed a combination of laxatives, you’ll normally have to reduce the dosage of each laxative, one at a time, before you can stop taking them. This can take several months.
Your GP will advise you about when it’s best to stop taking long-term laxatives.
What Exactly Does Constipation Look Like
Everyones poops are different, but the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases defines constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements a week that are hard, lumpy, or difficult and painful to pass.
It can also feel really uncomfortablewhile not necessarily being painful. Occasionally people can feel fullness or bloating, but pain is not really a characteristic symptom and if this is occurring regularly, you should seek the help of a digestive specialist, says Latorre.
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What Medications Can I Take To Relieve Constipation When Im Pregnant
If you cant get relief through lifestyle changes, your healthcare provider may prescribe a laxative or a fiber supplement that can help. Always check with your provider before taking any laxatives or supplements, though. Not all of them have been tested for safety and effectiveness during pregnancy. Avoid home remedies for constipation, like castor oil or mineral oil, unless your provider recommends you take them.
What are side effects of the treatment?
Some laxatives can cause you to become dehydrated and imbalance your electrolytes. This is why its so important to be sure that youre taking the right laxative and that youre taking it for the right amount of time. Speak to your provider to be sure.
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childâs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
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Head To The Drugstore
Some people find relief with over-the-counter products, such as simethicone and activated charcoal. Of the two, simethicone is considered the better option, although experts are not quite sure how it works. Brand names for simethicone include:
- Maalox Anti-Gas
You should know that activated charcoal may result in constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Therefore, its use is somewhat controversial within the medical community.
In addition, if you decide to try activated charcoal, you may find that it turns your stool black. However, black stools from charcoal supplements are not something to be concerned about.
As with any OTC product, check with your doctor before use. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should generally avoid these products.
Make Time To Move Your Bowels
Try waking up earlier to eat breakfast and then move yourbowels. Food can stimulate the need to go, and you probably feel most relaxedin your home bathroom.
But dont get toorelaxed in there the more time you spend on the toilet, the more likely you areto strain for bowel movements. Do not take your cell phone into the bathroomwith you, or work on your computer or read a book, Dr. Zutshi advises.
And if you feel the urge to go when youre out an about,dont avoid using a public restroom. Delaying a bowel movement can actuallymake constipation worse.
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Should You Eat When Constipated
Consider water, prune juice, and warm fluids in the morning such as herbal tea or hot lemonade. Eat more high-fiber foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, fresh raw vegetables, fresh raw fruits or cooked fruits with the peel on, dried fruits, dates, apricots, prunes, popcorn, seeds, and nuts.
When Should I Call My Doctor
Also, make the call if:
- Constipation is a new problem for you and lifestyle changes havenât helped.
- You have blood in your stool.
- Youâre losing weight even though youâre not trying to.
- You have severe pain with bowel movements.
- Your constipation has lasted more than 2 weeks.
- The size, shape, and consistency of your stool has changed dramatically.
Your doctor may recommend some tests to find the cause of your constipation:
- Blood tests to check on hormone levels
- Tests that show how waste moves through and out of your colon
- Colonoscopy to look for blockages in your colon
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Symptoms Of Faecal Impaction
The symptoms of impaction are similar to the symptoms of constipation. But other more serious symptoms can occur. These include:
- back pain due to the mass of poo pressing on the nerves in your lower back
- a swollen tummy
- high or low blood pressure
- a fast heart rate
- explosive diarrhoea or diarrhoea that you have no control over
- feeling and being sick
How Is Constipation During Pregnancy Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider may ask you how much youre pooping and what your stools look like. Other questions about your daily habits can help your provider find out whats likely causing your constipation or making it worse. Your provider may ask:
- What your diets like and how much youre drinking each day.
- If youre exercising or getting enough physical activity.
- What medicines or supplements youre taking.
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