Do you have chronic constipation?
- You have to strain to pass faeces at least one time in four
- Your faeces are lumpy or hard at least one time in four
- You feel that you haven’t emptied your bowel completely, at least one time in four
- You pass faeces only once or twice a week (or less)
- You feel like there is a ‘blockage’ when trying to defecate, at least one time in four
- You need to use ‘manual maneuvers’ such as supporting your pelvic floor or using your finger to help evacuation, at least one time in four
If two (or more) of these statements are true and you have had the problem for more than 3 months in the last 12, then you may have chronic constipation.
Also see Alarm signals.
Written by: Mr Andrew Ramwell
Edited by: Mr Andrew Ramwell
Last updated: Thursday, November 7th 2013
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An average person on a typical Western diet passes about 150 g (5 oz) of faeces each day. Faeces consist of about one-third solids and two-thirds water
The solid matter in faeces is cellulose from vegetables, dead cells cast off from the lining of the gut, bacteria, some salts and pigment from bile (which gives the brown colour)
Most of the waste matter from food is passed out in the faeces within 72 hours, but in healthy people up to 30% may remain in the colon for a week or more
Defecation is a very efficient process, normally taking only 10 seconds. Presumably it has to be quick - animals (and primitive man) cannot run from a predator easily if they are in the middle of defecating. This is probably why it is even quicker when we are frightened
In the USA, more than $800 million is spent on laxatives each year
Constipation results in more than 2–5 million visits to doctors in the USA each year
About 4,500,000 people in the USA say they are constipated most or all of the time (National Health Interview Survey)
In a UK survey, 6% of people said they had suffered from constipation in the past year, 13% had some difficulty in passing their faeces at least once a month, and 19% took laxatives at some time