Constipation is a common health issue. Just about everyone experiences it at some point, but some people have it more often than others. When you’re constipated, you have trouble passing stools, have infrequent bowel movements, or pass small, hard stools.
Eating a low-fiber diet is a common cause of constipation. However, if you have constipation even though you’re eating fiber, you may wonder why you’re still constipated.
Here, the care providers at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants in The Woodlands, Texas, including Dr. Ilyas Memon, offer some possible explanations for why your constipation continues despite your efforts to eat fiber.
Even if you’re trying to include fiber in your diet, you may not get enough. The daily goal is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Here is a helpful chart from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans listing the fiber content in many foods. You can add fiber to your diet by eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
Drinking adequate amounts of water each day helps soften your stool and make it easier to pass. Drinking enough water is even more important when adding fiber to your diet because it helps your body process fiber properly.
Although previous guidelines said to aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, that recommendation may not be right for everyone. Drink when you are thirsty, and if you are constipated, try drinking more water to see if it helps. Have extra water when you exercise.
Activity helps with constipation by moving food through your gastrointestinal system faster. If you are not very active, consider adding activity to your daily routine.
Aim for 30 minutes a day of walking, swimming, dancing, or other moderate physical activity that increases your heart rate. If that is too much, start with a few minutes of daily activity and build up from there.
Various medications can cause constipation as a side effect. If your constipation began after you started taking a new medication, ask your provider if the two may be related. However, don’t stop taking the medication without your provider’s guidance.
Although lack of fiber is a major cause of constipation, it can be caused by many other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, and intestinal blockage. An evaluation with the Texas Digestive Disease Consultants care team can provide you with more information about what may be causing your constipation, along with recommended treatment options.
The American Cancer Society recommends adults with an average risk of colorectal cancer begin having screening tests at age 45. (Testing may begin earlier if your risk is high.) In a few cases, colorectal cancer may contribute to constipation or other gastrointestinal symptoms.
You need to stay current with your colorectal cancer screening. There are several types of colorectal cancer screening, including stool tests and visual tests such as colonoscopy. Your provider can guide you in choosing the type of screening best for you.
We urge you to call for an appointment immediately if you are also experiencing rectal bleeding, pain, unexplained weight loss, and constipation.
To schedule an evaluation, please call 281-764-9500 or book an appointment online.