Occasional constipation is very common. In fact, one in four Canadians experiences symptoms due to constipation. It can be caused by a number of things including what you eat, how much you drink, and how active you are. Increasing age, travel environments, illnesses, and medication can also be sources of constipation.

Most of us will suffer from short-term constipation at some time in our lives but it generally improves without any long-term impact. On the other hand, chronic constipation does not generally improve on its own and it can have a huge impact on your life.

There’s hope for the squeezers

Most of us don’t need extensive testing to identify constipation — you’re going to know when you have it. Still, understanding what’s normal can help you identify constipation earlier and explain it to your doctor.

First, review your lifestyle and diet. Are you:

  • Exercising regularly?
  • Managing your stress level?
  • Eating enough fibre?
  • Keeping a regular poop schedule?

If you’re still having trouble achieving a daily bowel movement through changes in lifestyle and diet talk to a pharmacist about things such as using laxatives, bulking agents, suppositories, and enemas. Sometimes it may be helpful to combine two or more of these laxatives so ask your doctor about which laxative is right for you!

If none of these options help, you could have chronic constipation. You probably have a chronic constipation problem if you’ve experienced straining during more than one out of four bowel movements, hard stools for one out of four bowel movements, less than three bowel movements in a week, and/or feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels when you do go.

While a variety of changes will usually get you back on the throne in no time, you should not be afraid to speak to a pharmacist or doctor to find a solution if the problem persists. Let’s break the poo taboo!