The period between Thanksgiving and New Years is probably the time of year when our diets change the most through more opportunities for overeating, eating at irregular times and consuming a variety of holiday goodies. In addition, this hectic and stressful time of year, with shopping and parties added to our regular activities, undoubtedly leads to fewer of us getting the exercise we need. These factors are all set ups for changing bowel habits.
No doubt that many of us, including celebrities, will be undergoing various types of “cleanses” in January as part of our New Years’ resolutions.
How do you know if you’re constipated? Doctors and patients can and often do differ in what they mean by particular terms. Below are the so-called “Rome criteria” for constipation. You have to have two or more of these symptoms for at least three months:
An important point to remember is that constipation affects almost everyone at one time or another. In most cases, following these simple steps will help prevent constipation:
One important point is that some medicines can cause constipation. Topping this list are prescription painkillers such as demerol.
Constipation is very prevalent in elderly patients as noted by Hippocrates who said, some 2,500 years ago, “the intestines tend to become sluggish with age.”
Constipation in children is common and rarely a sign of a serious health problem. However it can affect quality of life and cause emotional problems and family stress.
Links for health care professionals: