Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Constipation Conversations

Constipation. The word itself makes you think of the pain or discomfort it causes. Infact when someone makes a screwed up frowning face we usually ask them why do they look constipated. It’s something that all of have gone through atleast once in our lives, some are more fortunate and have once in a blue moon occurrence while for others it is a chronic problem.

But even though it is such a traumatizing experience, why do we not talk about it openly? If you’re taking a sick leave due to a viral infection you will be openly talking about it when you tell your boss why you cannot come, but would you ever tell them that I cannot make it today because I am constipated? I don’t think so.

So what is constipation, how is it defined? If you go by the books it is when you have less than 3
bowel movements in a week, or basically when you do not pass stools daily. Chronic constipation can lead to serious health issues like piles and hemorrhoids and like any other illness should definitely not be taken lightly and one should visit the doctor if they are continuously suffering.

For me, I have seen constipation very commonly in my family, but surprisingly we always battle the instances with some or the home remedies and have never tried to go to the underlying cause. Even my 2.5 year old kid is constipated at least a couple a times a month and kids get very irritable and fussy when they’re constipated – I can tell you that. My husband and father both have chronically suffered from constipation and always tried home remedies or herbal/ayurvedic ones but nothing helped a lot. Infact if they’re reading this now they’ll probably ask me why am I telling this to the public, that’s how the Indian mentality is.

Kids, pregnant ladies and senior citizens are more prone to be affected by constipation. If you’re on iron supplements it may also cause constipation. Irregular routine, unhealthy diet and lifestyle, frequent travel, lack of water intake, not getting enough exercise, ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom are a few factors that cause constipation.

This is quite true, sometimes when we’re on vacation or travelling we need to pass stools but are skeptical or going to unhygienic public toilets or stinking ones. Once I was travelling from Goa to Mumbai by bus and there was some accident ahead due to which we were stuck for hours at a no-man’s place. I really had to ‘go’ and there was simply nothing I could do, I was literally ready to burst and at one time felt that I should just go do it behind the bushes but there were too many people around. After that, I was constipated for a couple of days and it was very annoying.

In India the issue is that people are too humiliated to talk about it. Usually families discuss their day while sitting together at the dinner table, but if someone brings up things like – their day was not so great because they were constipated and had a terrible headache, their mother or grandmother or some senior at the table will cringe their nose and say please don’t talk about this right now. They wouldn’t have said that if you had broken your nose or even fainted.

If I have to think why is that, I feel it’s probably because constipation is a problem where you silently suffer without much of a physical proof to show people. Like, if you had diarrhoea, one could actually see you continuously go to the bathroom which is not the case here. You feel irritated, anxious and strained – which is something others will probably pass as your general personality or attribute to your day not being so good due to other reasons.

Now what can we do to avoid constipation?

The ABC’s to prevent constipation:

• Aware and alert: Be aware of your regular bowel routine and alert to any significant change

• Bowel routine: Empty your bowels at a fixed time every day

Constipasana (the correct posture to sit on the western commode toilet) to sit right:

Remember to use a footrest and to lean forward if you sit

Drink sufficient fluids: Include 2-3L of fluid in your daily diet.

• Exercise regularly: physical activity helps the bowel muscles to contract during a bowel movement

• Fibre is a must: High-fibre foods including whole wheat grains, nuts, seeds, help to keep your bowel movements regular

Go when you need to: Do not ignore the urge to empty your bowels

And if you think you follow all of this and still have frequent bouts of constipation or it is chronic – you definitely must visit your doctor and take treatment for the same. If you know someone who has been silently suffering, do not mock them and encourage them to visit their physician. We all tend to make poop and shit jokes, but constipation is a serious business and not funny at all.


I attended a panel discussion on constipation awareness facilitated by Abbott India Limited. Any opinion expressed in this blog is my personal opinion and not the opinion of Abbott India Limited. Abbott India Limited does not assume any liability for the content of the blog. The blog post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation or prescription of treatment for people having constipation problems. Any reader of this blog suffering from constipation problems should specifically consult his/her doctor for the same and follow the suggested course of treatment

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