Constipation is a reduction in the number of defecations, accompanied by hard, dry stools. Normal bowel habit can vary between individuals, from twice daily to once every 2 or 3 days. There is a wide normal range, a thing many people, especially the elderly and young mothers do not appreciate. Hard stools with difficulty or straining to pass with a change in bowel habit are a better indication when deciding that a patient is constipated.
Constipation is often accompanied by abdominal discomfort, bloating or nausea.
The causes range from simple changes in lifestyle and daily routine to major bowel or systemic disease. A common cause of constipation is insufficient dietary fibre i.e. not enough wholemeal cereals, bread and fresh vegetables.
Constipation is common in pregnancy. Correct dietary advice should be sought from your doctor or pharmacist.