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Published on November 7, 2019

Can you catch constipation?

In a word, no. But the notion that constipation can be caught like a cold is one of many myths that needs to be busted. Because when it comes to your health and an issue such as bowel movements, it’s good to know what’s myth and what’s reality.

What are the facts?

Good question. The following is a list with just some of the true and false things about constipation. Read on and see how many you’ve heard of that may be fact, or fiction.

It is normally to have a bowel movement once a day. False.

What is normal when it comes to bowel movements can vary from person to person. ‘Normal’ could be anything from everyday to once every few days. If however you are having less than three bowel movements a week you may be constipated.

All you need to do is add more fibre into your diet. False

Constipation is usually caused by a lack of fibre in the diet. But it can be caused by other things like a medical condition, as a side effect from some medications, even stress, anxiety and other emotional issues. If you are constipated, you should consider more than just your diet1.

Swallowed chewing gum can cause bowel blockage. True

For most people, gum moves through and out of your body just like foods do. It takes a lot of gum to create a problem, like swallowing large amounts of gum, or lots of pieces over a short period of time. This may lead to a blob of gum forming that could block your digestive track and lead to constipation occurring.1

Your recent holiday could be the culprit. True

Travel broadens the mind, and your diet. When you’re on holiday your daily routine changes, you eat and drink new discoveries and probably relax a lot, which means a lot less moving.

To prevent constipation, watch what you eat, drink plenty of water (bottled) and stay active1.

Emotions can have an impact on your bowel movements. True

Changes in emotional state may trigger constipation or make it worse. So, improving your mood through meditation, yoga or relaxation techniques really helps. You could also try massaging your belly and the muscles that support the intestines1.

Holding it in can cause damage. False

Ignoring the urge isn’t a matter of life and death, but it may make you physically uncomfortable, more than a little grumpy or even exacerbate constipation. Some people even say they’re too busy to go. Really? No one is that busy, so when you hear nature calling, you should heed the call 1.

 Constipation can be an adverse effect of some medications. True.

Certain medications may cause constipation as a side effect. If you are taking any medications and think you may be constipated talk to your pharmacist or doctor to discuss if your medication may be contributing. Your doctor or pharmacist can also discuss options to assist relieving constipation1.

All fibre is treated the same in the body. False

There are two kinds of fibre. Insoluble fibre and soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to help pass through your intestines faster. It is found in whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereal. Soluble fibre dissolves in water and is found in beans, peas and some other plant foods1.

Prunes are a natural laxative. True

Small in size, prunes are big on effect when it comes to constipation. This small dried fruit has earned a worthy reputation as nature’s remedy for constipation, because prunes are rich in insoluble fibre, as well as the natural laxative sorbitol1.

Water is important to help regulate bowel movements. True.

Water assists to soften stools and in doing so helps prevent constipation. You can get the right amount of water from either drinking water or consuming water-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables. Try to avoid other liquids such as caffinated beverages and alcohol as these contain other ingredients which can be dehydrating and counteract the benefits1.

Castor oil will cure all constipation issues. False

Castor oil has traditionally been used to relieve constipation. However, it is important to discuss treatment options with you doctor or pharmacist to find an option suitable for you and carefully follow all directions for use1.

Exercise will help you become more regular. True

Exercise is a good lifestyle measure to assist in preventing constipation. Plus, there are numerous other health benefits from regular exercise! Just make sure that you wait for an hour after eating to allow your food to be digested and then get moving!1!

 Stool softeners are considered laxatives too. True

Stool softeners work by causing more water to be absorbed from the bowel and this makes stools softer. As with any laxative it is important to address the underlying cause of constipation so if you are needing to use stool softeners regularly talk to your doctor so any underlying causes can be addressed1.

Constipation naturally occurs with age. False

It’s often thought that constipation comes with aging, but that’s not necessarily the case. Whether you’re 7, 27 or 70 years old, the same constipation prevention tips apply, like getting enough fibre and water in your diet, and giving your body more exercise1.

Do kids get constipation?

Yes. Constipation can and does occur at every stage of life, and often for the same reasons. Just like adults, kids can become constipated. So, if you’re a parent or guardian it pays to know what the signs are.

There are many misconceptions about the causes, symptoms and solutions. So, let’s quickly clear up a few.

The main indicator of constipation in kids is not pooping often

That’s not necessarily the case. The two signs to watch for are bigger than normal poops or poop that’s pellet or log shaped. Kids’ poop should ‘come out’ shaped like soft serve ice cream.

Is constipation in kids harmful?

It’s not really a concern, but if left unchecked, constipation could become an issue in adulthood.

 It’s easy to tell if a kid has constipation

Actually, no. Even doctors may miss the signs. But if bedwetting or other little accidents occur, there’s a chance it has to do with constipation.

Poor diet causes constipation

Kids who eat well can still become constipated. With children, it’s not so much what they eat, but more so not listening to their bodies and going when they’ve got to go.

A good dose of prune juice and fibre fixes things

If a kid is having lots of accidents or often feeling discomfort, suddenly changing diet won’t really work. Probiotics could do some good short term, but they’re not a long-term solution.

 If constipation affects you or any family member, Dulcolax could be helpful.

Discover more about the range Dulcolax products.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. 

Sources

  1. 19 Constipation Myths and Facts [Internet]. WebMD; c2005-2019 [cited 2019 July 19]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/ss/slideshow-constipation-facts-10  
  2. https://www.realmomnutrition.com/myths-consipation-in-kids/

   CHCANZ.DULC1.19.10.1187  @ Oct 19

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