What is Constipation?
Constipation affects up to 28% of the North American population, with women and seniors most likely to suffer from this digestive problem.
Definitions of what is constipation vary greatly. Some experts believe that to be diagnosed with functional constipation, a patient must have had two or more of the following for at least 12 months, but not be taking laxatives:
- Straining at least 25% of the time (one out of four bowel movements).
- Lumpy or hard stools at least 25% of the time.
- Feeling of incomplete evacuation at least 25% of the time.
- Fewer than three bowel movements in a week.
Other medical experts disagree with this definition based on symptoms and instead suggest that a diagnosis of constipation be based on records of stool type and whole gut transit time, the time it takes food to pass through the whole gut. Slow transit was defined as less than 92 hours—about four days. So you would not be constipated if you had an easy to pass, well-formed stool every three days.
Clearly, there is no consensus on the definition of what is constipation. The bottom line is if you have dry, hard, lumpy stools that are uncomfortable to pass; if you feel bloated, headachy, or “stopped up;” if you feel best having one bowel movement daily, but regularly do not have one each day, you probably are constipated.
If you are constipated, chances are you’ve tried laxatives. Laxatives are a common constipation remedy. However, laxatives can cause irritation of the bowel and result in an intestinal tract too reliant on the laxatives to work for itself. Fortunately, there are other natural remedies for constipation that have shown to be more effective.