Diagram of bowel

What is constipation?

The signs & symptoms of constipation

Fewer trips to the bathroom

You may have to ‘go’ less often than is normal for you – pooing less than 3 times a week could be constipation

Feeling bloated

You may find you have a bloated stomach and even feel sick and nauseous

Feeling you still need to ‘go’

Although you might be pooing as often as normal, you might feel as if you are not completely emptying your bowel

Abdominal pain or discomfort

Your stomach might feel painful and uncomfortable

Difficulty going

You might be pooing as often as normal but finding it painful, or you have to strain when you do poo

Your poo is large, dry,
hard and lumpy

Your poo might look different to normal, for example it could be hard, dry and lumpy or larger/smaller than usual

One great way to discover if you are constipated is to see how your poo compares with the guide doctors use - the Bristol stool chart

View Bristol Stool Chart
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Common causes of constipation in adults

Why it’s important to manage constipation

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To ease discomfort

Taking action on constipation can help ease your discomfort and help you get back to feeling normal

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To minimise complications

Ignoring constipation can cause haemorrhoids (piles) and faecal impaction, where poo builds up in your rectum

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To aid digestion

Long-term constipation can make your bowel lazy, which can affect the digestive system

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To improve quality of life

Constipation can have a major negative effect on your everyday wellbeing

When do I need to see my doctor?

If you have any of the following symptoms alongside your constipation, it’s best to see your doctor for advice:

  • You also feel extremely tired
  • You are losing weight without trying
  • Have blood in your poo
  • You are often constipated and it lasts a long time or it doesn’t get better with treatment
  • Pain in your abdomen or bottom (rectum)

Simple tips to help your constipation

The first thing to try when managing and preventing constipation is to make simple changes to your diet and lifestyle.

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