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.