It's not a dinner table topic of conversation and the word itself may elicit a teenage giggle, but constipation is very common and can cause severe discomfort and abdominal pain. Constipation affects about 15 percent of the population and is more common among people over age 65.
Constipation can lead to such discomfort and pain that patients seek medical treatment by going to the emergency room. Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Michael Camilleri, M.D., says the most important step to take is prevention. To help avoid constipation problems, Dr. Camilleri says it is important to stay hydrated and have a fiber-rich diet. He recommends consuming between 12-25 grams of fiber in your diet every day.
A normal pattern of bowel function is a bowel movement every two or three days or three bowels movements per week. Dr. Camilleri says if you do not have a bowel movement for more than four or five days, you may want to talk with your doctor about what may be causing the symptoms.
The three most common reasons or risk factors for constipation include:
For those suffering chronic constipation, Dr. Camilleri says check with your primary physician for best treatment options. Learn more about constipation issues:
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Camilleri are available in the downloads.