What is Constipation?

puzzled manMost people experience constipation at some point in their lives, but what is constipation?  You may think you’re constipated for just a day or two, but true constipation lasts much longer and is more serious.

Constipation is more than just not being able to go the bathroom for a couple of days.  To be considered a true medical or health problem, it needs to be a chronic problem that causes you to experience some symptoms.

Normal Digestion

When your digestive system is functioning properly, you probably don’t think too much about it.  Normally when you eat, food is broken down from the time you start chewing until it reaches the large intestine.

Your body produces digestive enzymes that start to break down food in your mouth.  As it moves through your esophagus and stomach, the food becomes liquefied which makes it possible for your body to absorb the nutrients in it.

In your small intestine, your body actually absorbs all of the good stuff from your food including protein, carbohydrates, and fats.  It also absorbs vitamins and minerals through the walls of the small intestine.  And once all the nutrients that can be absorbed have been removed, you’re left with water and waste.

In the large intestine the water is removed from the waste of your food and begins to solidify into what we call feces.  As food passes through the large intestine more and more water is removed until you have a bowel movement to release it from the body.

the human digestive system

human digestive system diagram


A System Slow Down

constipation diagramFor many different reasons, the digestive system can get slowed down.  When this happens too much water is removed from solid waste making it hard and difficult to evacuate from your body. Over time this problem can be considered constipation.

When you’re constipated, your stools may become hard and difficult to pass from your body.  You may skip days between bowel movements or only go once or twice a week.  You may also find that you have to strain during bowel movements.

If you’re constipated, you may also feel like you haven’t been able to get all of your feces to leave your body after going to the bathroom.  In order to be considered the true definition of constipation, you have to experience at least two of these problems for a period of at least three months.

So while you might have an occasional day when you miss a bowel movement or feel that you’re straining, you really don’t have a problem that needs treatment unless it becomes a chronic problem for you.

It’s important to pay attention to your body so that you know if you have a problem that lasts for a long enough period of time to seek treatment.  The good news is that if you have constipation, there are many ways it can be treated naturally and medically to give relief.

Talking About Constipation

ignoreWhen you have this problem, it can be embarrassing to talk about constipation.  However, you should know that this is a common problem and you’re not alone.  When you have difficulty going to the bathroom it means that something isn’t quite right in your digestive system.

There are many simple causes and once you’re able to pinpoint the problem, you’ll be able to get relief.  In very rare cases, constipation is a sign of something more serious that you need to discuss with a healthcare professional.

But by ignoring constipation you can cause your symptoms to get worse and you can contribute to more serious problems with your digestive system that have long-term consequences. It’s important to make sure you’re in tune with your body and that you don’t let this problem go undiagnosed or untreated.

If you suspect that you’re constipated, it’s important to learn as much as you can so that you can get the right treatment as quickly as possible.  It’s also important to understand the symptoms, possible causes, and treatment options that you have available to you.

A constipation cure could be as simple as increasing your intake of water or fiber or it might require you to make a larger lifestyle change.  But when you pay attention to what your body is telling you, can make informed choices about your digestive health.

There’s No Need to Suffer

If you’re suffering from constipation you should know that you’re not alone and you don’t have to live with the misery that accompanies it.  People who suffer from constipation can feel uncomfortable and it can even make eating an uncomfortable activity.

But there’s no need for you to suffer with this problem when there are so many options available to you.  The first step towards curing it is understanding what constipation is. After which, it’s a good idea to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment possibilities.

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