About constipation


About constipation

Constipation is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. It can mean that you’re not passing stools regularly, or you’re having difficulty passing them.8 Or you may even feel an uncomfortable fullness even after you’ve had a bowel movement.20

Constipation affects everybody differently. It can make your stools hard and lumpy, or unusually large or small.

It’s probably constipation if:21

  • You have bowel movements fewer than 3 times in a week
  • Your stools are often difficult to push out and larger than usual
  • Your stools are often dry, hard or lumpy

You may also have stomach ache and feel bloated or sick.8

Constipation isn’t just about frequency. In fact, many doctors consider factors such as the shape, texture and consistency of stools to be the best way to assess bowel functionality. Your doctor may use a simple scale to measure your stool consistency called the Bristol Stool Scale22

Did you know?

Constipation is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting up to1 in 3 people.15

It may be reassuring to know that constipation is not usually a serious condition– but speak to your doctor if you have any concerns15

What causes constipation

Constipation usually happens when stools have been in the bowel for too long, and water from them is re-absorbed by the body. This can make the stools hard and dry, and difficult to pass.8

There are many things that can cause constipation in adults. Sometimes there’s no obvious reason for it.21

The most common causes include:21

  • Not eating enough fiber – such as fruit, vegetables and cereals
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not exercising enough
  • Ignoring the urge to go to the toilet – sometimes referred to as ‘withholding’
  • Changing your diet or daily routine
  • Stress, anxiety or depression

Certain medications are known to cause constipation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines that may explain your symptoms.

In much rarer cases, constipation may be caused by a medical condition.21

Constipation is common in new moms and moms-to-be.

Can stress cause constipation?

Thoughts and emotions that are triggered by stress are thought to have an impact on your digestive system and may contribute towards constipation. This is thought to be a result of the way in which your brain and gut work together, known as the brain-gut axis.23

There may be times when you can’t help feeling stressed, but there are things you can do to try and deal with stress better, such as:24

  • Talk to family or friends about things that are worrying you
  • Try increasing the amount of exercise you get
  • Download some mindfulness or relaxation apps
  • Make more time for your hobbies and interests
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
  • Make sure you eat a healthy diet

Take control of your constipation

Sometimes, the worry of being constipated can make you even more stressed, which in turn may make your constipation worse.
Lactulose (Duphalac®) provides constipation relief that lasts.1,2

Travel and constipation

A change of routine, such as being on holiday with a different diet and time zone, and using facilities in public places, can affect your bowel habits.25

This can make travelling a challenge when you’re constipated. But there are many things you can do to help keep you comfortable.

Lifestyle changes can help with constipation

Our busy lifestyles can play a role in constipation, with many contributing factors

If constipation is interfering with your life, don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do to help.

What are the treatment options?

Many people find that making changes to their diet and lifestyle can improve their symptoms. If these don’t help, laxatives are often used.