Symptoms of constipation include infrequent, irregular, or incomplete bowel movements. Discomfort or straining during bowel movements is also common. Constipation can also cause hard, dry stools and excessive gas or bloating.
In general, we say a person is constipated when he or she is experiencing discomfort as a result of infrequent, irregular, or difficult bowel movements. In terms of frequency, what constitutes normal differs greatly from person to person: it may mean as many as 3 bowel movements a day or as few as 3 or 4 bowel movements a week. That is why healthcare providers often rely on a person's report of the uncomfortable effects of constipation — such as bloating, excessive gas, straining and even pain due to hard, dry stools — as the best indicator that he or she is really experiencing constipation.
How do you know when you are constipated? If you are experiencing one or more of the following signs, you may be constipated:
- Less frequent bowel movements.
- Hard, dry stools that are difficult and/or painful to pass.
- Excessive gas or abdominal bloating.
- The sensation of a full rectum, even after you have had a bowel movement.
Symptoms such as those listed above suggest constipation, which may be easily treated with changes in lifestyle or diet. When this approach does not work, occasional use of a natural vegetable laxative ingredient may be helpful. Always speak to your doctor if your symptoms last over two weeks.
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the United States. An estimated 42 million people1 nationwide say they have issues with constipation. If you are constipated, there are many things you can do to relieve your discomfort, beginning with diet and lifestyle changes, and possibly using an appropriate laxative. If your constipation lasts for more than a couple of weeks, you should see your doctor to make sure it's not a sign of something serious.
1National Institutes of Health. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Constipation. Available at http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/constipation/Pages/overview.aspx Accessed July 2016.