My articles are written from my perspective as a long time writer on HubPages, a retired healthcare professional and an educated patient.
Poop and Constipation
"Oh my gosh, she's not going to talk about poop and constipation, is she?"
Oh, Yes she is! In detail and she even has pictures! (non-offensive, I hope).
The dreaded topic needs to be addressed and at the same time provide information.
Disclaimer: This hub is about common constipation that is not due to a diagnosed health condition, for example, Celiac Disease, IBS, Crohn's Disease, Hypothyroidism, Diabetes, and other metabolic diseases.
Will Other People Know?
The Talk About Poop
Many people just don't want to talk about POOP, about their bowel habits, what it should look like or not look like, and how to better take care of their bodies to make the POOP process easier in order to avoid constipation all together.
What Causes Constipation? 4 minute video
What Is Constipation?
Constipation is a very common everyday concern. No one is unique, everyone has suffered from it at one time or another.
Constipation happens when bowel movements become difficult to pass or when you don't "go" as much as you normally would. There is no normal time limit, shape or size for having bowel movements because everyone is different, but everyone has them one way or another. (by actual toileting or by ostomy bag)
Check out the stool shape chart on this page and, in the interest of science, take the anonymous poll to see how you measure up with others reading this hub. It is truly anonymous, so don't be shy in your answer choice.
Bowel Movement Shapes
What Sign Are You?
Signs of Constipation
- If you go too long without a bowel movement, the stool becomes too hard and very difficult to pass. A rule of thumb is don't let more than three days go by without having a bowel movement.The more time between bowel movements, the harder it will be to go. Along with that comes some very visible signs that you are constipated.
- Some people will have a slightly bloated belly, while others will have a grossly bloated belly. This is called distension.
- Bad breath is a telltale sign that there is some junk in the trunk that needs to come out.
- Skin changes are often noted - skin can become either excessively dry or very oily; pale and chalky to very red.
- Flatulence - passing gas is telling everyone you are constipated. If it is smelly gas, it tells you and others in your immediate vicinity that your bowel habits (and you diet) are in need of attention.
Long periods of sitting on toilet is not the answer
Slideshow of Myths & Facts of Constipation
- Digestive Disorders Pictures Slideshow: Constipation Myths and Facts on MedicineNet
Watch this Digestive Disorders slideshow on Constipation Myths and Facts. Learn why you may be having issues with your bowel movements and whether fiber, exercise, and water can help with constipation.
Other "Tell-Tale" Signs (but only to you)
- Pain in your belly is a tell tale sign of constipation or the need to go. The pain can range from mild to extreme. It is sometimes accompanied with fever. Some people end up in the hospital emergency room because the pain can become very severe. They need to be checked out for a ruptured bowel. This is a serious condition and not to be ignored since peritonitis can occur from the stool being loose outside the colon. For unrelieved pain that goes on for hours, seek immediate medical attention.
- The tongue will change colors - often to a chalky white because it is dry (dehydration), and no matter how many lozenges you suck on or how much ice you chew on, it is just not enough hydration. The best way to hydrate is WATER, pure water. Not water that is added to a product to constitute it into another form. Straight drinking water.
- Headaches are a frequent sign of constipation, often coupled with fatigue to the point of exhaustion.
- Vomiting is another sign. Vomiting occurs when you are so full of stool, that the top part of your colon presses up against your stomach. Often GERDS and/or excessive belching will occur just before and/or after a vomiting episode. Vomiting does not relieve constipation - it tells you that constipation needs to be addressed but in no way helps it along. Therefore vomiting is a sign, not a reliever, even though one may feel better after a vomiting episode.
- Hemorrhoids can come from straining; they are also a side effect of constipation. If you don't know you are constipated, and you have no other symptoms (such as listed above), then hemorrhoids will be your "tell". They come in all shapes and sizes, inside and outside of the rectum. They can bleed or not bleed, and can often be relieved and reduced with home remedies. But home remedies won't remove them. Seek medical attention if they bleed, are large, or obstruct the rectum opening.
This is not a conclusive list.
While there are some people who can go to the bathroom as many as four times a day, there are others who only go once or twice in a week. It all has to do with WHAT you eat and WHEN you eat it, your activity level, your medication (some have constipation as a side effect) and your fluid intake.
Soda is a big culprit
Causes of Constipation
- Diet is at the top of the list. You are what you eat. If you have a crap diet, you will be full of crap. Eat more food, eat less of these items.
C (carbonated drinks) - they have fizz
R (refined sugar) - the kind in your sugar bowl
A (artificial colors and artificial sweeteners) - dangerous on so many levels
P (processed foods) - anything that is enhanced or changed from its original form. A way to tell if a food is considered a processed food is on the list of ingredients, you recognize the first 4 or 5 ingredients on the list and the rest you can't pronounce.
- Not drinking enough water.
- Stress (internal, external, environmental, homelife - any kind)
- Not eating enough fiber or not adding fiber to your diet at all
- Sporadic meal routines - long stretches of time between meals (fasting)
- Overusing antacids. These have calcium and/or aluminum ingredients
- Overusing stool softeners or laxatives. These can weaken the rectal muscles
- Being overweight
- Not exercising or moving around, staying in bed
- Pregnancy (any time during the nine months)
- Various medications (painkillers, iron supplements, etc. - always read your drug insert literature)
- Holding back the urge to go (i.e. fear of pain, bleeding, not knowing bathroom location away from home, no toilet paper and other bathroom inconveniences)
- Hemorrhoids (Externally they can be a cause of constipation and Internally, they can be a symptom of constipation)
- Eating a lot of dairy products (ice cream, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (i.e. hormonal disturbances of any kind, either due to natural body changes or chemical changes with medications or chemo)
This is not a complete list. Other causes can be determined by your physician.
The Good News
The good news is ---- drumroll, please!
Most people with constipation will be told they do NOT have a grave or serious illness which can reduce their worry. They may be told that with changes of dietary habits, fluid intake, scheduled bowel movements, that their life can get easier.
Some people have what is called "obstructed defecation" which means that you will find yourself straining to get the poop out only to find it is in small pieces, or similar to the types on the stool chart above. They put a lot of effort in and see very little result.
Other people may have what is called "colonic inertia" which means that your colon contractions are out of rhythm which keeps the poop inside you. These people often feel that their colon is just not completely emptying out each time. And they are right.
You can read more on Obstructed Defectation and its treatment here.
Treatment of Constipation
Looking at this short list, it might seem that some of the items in 'causes' list are shown here in treatments, they are. But there are some differences.
- Diet - the bad part of your diet is what causes constipation. Eating a better diet can help relieve constipation.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables (put them in a blender or juicer to drink them instead of eating them), add some bran to certain dishes (if you don't like the taste, adding it to foods can hide it), and try some beets, cabbage or cole slaw.
- Prunes come in a variety of packaging now to make them fun and tasty to eat.
- For some people, wheat products are an allergy because it makes them go too much, but in case of constipation, eating just one wheat product will relieve constipation the next day. Other people swear by oatmeal - one bowl in the morning and they 'go' by end of day.
- Laxatives - while dependency on laxatives can cause constipation, certain types of laxatives (saline and osmotic) are more gentle and less dependent.
- Enemas and suppositories - these are for occasional relief of constipation, not for REGULAR relief of constipation.
- Fluid intake - If you are on a fluid restricted diet where you need to monitor how much you are drinking vand measure your output, you will need to ask your doctor for some prescription assistance. But for people who are not on any restricted diet, drinking excessive amount of fluids can cause watery stools and other digestive problems. However, not drinking enough WATER can cause constipation. All those sugary drinks, juices, flavored water, energy drinks, fizzy things are not WATER and even though they are liquids. Those types of liquids are not feeding your tissues; they dry out your tissues by stealing the fluid that is stored in your body so they can digest the chemicals found in those juices, flavored water, soda and energy drinks. They need body and tissue fluids so the liver can process them out of the body.
- Develop a routine for going to the bathroom to move your bowels. Try warm decaffeinated drinks, especially in the morning if that time is convenient to your life schedule (work, sleep, etc.). Don't wait until you are about to burst or until pain becomes unbearable. GO!
Suggested by Doctor Oz and The Doctors
Here are some YouTube videos from some of televisions medical professionals, including Doctor Oz that I hope you find interesting and informative.
The info is good, but the music is a little annoying. The video is done with placards.
Doctor Oz's Healthy Drink (5 mins long)
If you take control of your physical health, constipation will become less of a problem.
Routine is important, along with diet and the other measures outlined here.
Updated 2/2/2013, 4/6/2017, 6/10/2020
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 awordlover
awordlover (author) on September 24, 2013:
THX MySwanSong for your gracious comment. We tried to choose videos that would enhance this hub. We are hoping awordlover would be proud of the end result. Comments like yours are reassuring. Thank you. Jillian Burns, member of awordlover's team
awordlover (author) on September 24, 2013:
THX KenWu for the compliments. awordlover has about 130 unpublished hubs in her library that the team is going over one by one to bring them to completion. It is hard to choose which topics to publish and we thought that although this one is touchy, it was important to publish and update it with photos and videos. Thank you for your kind words. Jillian Burns, member of awordlover's team
MySwanSong on September 24, 2013:
awordlover, this is an excellent article. You have covered all the bases without getting too technical. The videos are perfectly geared to all the information you presented. I want to be you when I grow up to be a big hubber. lol Voted useful and interesting. Very well done.
KenWu from Malaysia on September 24, 2013:
Like said, people don't like to talk about this issue. This might due to embarrassment. I have read thoroughly about this topic before on the internet and I can say that this hubber has done a great job on coming out with this hub.