Plugged up?

It’s not something that is discussed much in circles of friends and colleagues – for obvious reasons – but constipation is common. In the UK, approx.12% of the general population suffer from chronic constipation. Twice as many women than men struggle with it, and the over 65s are most affected: 25% of free living older people experience constipation, but a shocking 80% of the elderly living in nursing homes.

Because bowel habits are not a popular topic of conversation, it is hard to know what is normal and what isn’t. If you can answer ‘yes’ to two or more of the following, you are probably constipated:

  • Do you ‘go’ less than three times per week?
  • Do you often strain (at least 25% of the time)?
  • Are your stools often hard or lumpy (at least 25% of the time)?
  • Do you often feel that you haven’t been able to excrete everything (at least 25% of the time)

A comparison with the Bristol Stool Chart may also help you see where you are.

Man sitting on toilet bowl
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Well watered – you are probably not dehydrated

Have you always been told to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day? Everybody knows that that’s what you must do, right? And do you find that you are struggling to meet that target? Well, you are not alone. Many of us do, and the more disciplined among us will force it down, while others don’t, but then feel guilty about not reaching the target. Even though most health professionals keep repeating the “8 glasses rule”, there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence for that.

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Photo: picjumbo

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