Prevention is the best option

Health tips on constipation

Restrenyiment a Vall d'Hebron

Patients with constipation should be aware of the risk factors that bring it on and that are related to lifestyle. For example, a diet low in fibre, insufficient hydration, lack of regular hygiene habits, lack of exercise, etc. These factors may be changed.

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What do you need to bear in mind if you have constipation?

 

Nursing staff have a crucial role to play in preventing constipation as they educate people on healthy lifestyle habits.

It is important to promote lifestyle changes by offering advice on hygiene and diet tips and measures, and stress and anxiety should be avoided.  By preventing constipation, stools may be passed without difficulty, improving the consistency and volume of faeces.

To avoid constipation a series of recommendations can be followed.

  • Diet tips:
    • It is important to eat regular meals and chew food properly to allow your intestines to do their job.
    • Eat more foods rich in soluble fibre, such as fruit, vegetables, pulses, dried fruit, rye bread and olive oil.
    • Fibre rich food intake should be increased gradually to allow the intestines to adapt, since slow transit of faeces may cause abdominal bloating.
    • Foods that may lead to constipation should be avoided, such as rice, chocolate, bananas, apples and processed foods.
    • 1.5-2 litres of liquids should be drunk each day and excessive fizzy and sugary drinks avoided.
  • Advice on exercise and physical activity:
    • Lack of physical activity increases the time it takes for material to pass through the intestines.
    • Regular physical activity is recommended (walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, running, etc.), taking into account one’s own limits and ability.

 

Environmental factors you can change to avoid constipation

 

  • Go to the toilet after meals and make the most of your gastrocolic reflex. After breakfast is the best time.
  • Give yourself privacy, space and time when you go to the toilet.
  • Try to create a daily habit and don’t rush.
  • Never repress the desire or need to go to the toilet.
  • Make sure the toilet is at the right height. Use a riser or elevated toilet seat if needed.
  • Avoid excessive force when it comes to passing stools.
  • Adopt a posture that allows you to pass material easily. Sit with your legs bent so that your knees are above pelvis height.

Avoid using laxatives, they may change your bowel  movements and you could become dependent on them. If you do need to take laxatives, make sure you follow medical guidelines.