constipation symptoms

Constipation Symptoms

Constipation is a common, albeit uncomfortable problem that means different things to individual sufferers. There are many different symptoms to constipation and it helps to know the most common symptoms to help you achieve constipation relief quickly. Common constipation symptoms include fewer or infrequent bowel movements, straining or passing hard stools, trapped wind and stomach bloating. Use our detailed constipation symptoms checker for further information.

How to recognise constipation early

Trapped wind

Don’t worry: Trapped wind and flatulence are not a sickness, merely symptoms, which can have many causes. The catalyst is usually having too much air in your stomach, for example because of overly fatty, low-fibre foods, eating too fast or excessive stress. This is caused by intestinal bacteria, which produce sulphurous gases. Although embarrassing in most cases, trapped wind is usually no cause for concern and clears up of its own accord.

Hard or lumpy stools

Constipation is quite common and usually no cause for alarm. When your stool contains too little water, it becomes dry and hard. This could be a result of a problem in your digestive system, but more often is down to your lifestyle and environment. Possible causes are a high-fat and high-sugar diet, too little fibre, too little exercise, or hormonal changes – caused by the menopause or pregnancy, for example.

Bloody stools

The most common causes of blood in your stool are harmless – things like enlarged haemorrhoids or small tears in the walls of the rectum caused by straining too hard on the toilet. If there is blood in your stools then you should seek medical advice.

Frequency of passing stools

It’s better to relax and don’t put pressure on yourself: There is no ‘normal’ number of toilet visits per week – people are simply too different for that. However, as a rule of thumb, doctors refer to a ‘normal range’ of between three a day and three times a week for going to the toilet. Within that range, If you feel you are passing stool less frequently than what you would consider normal for yourself and in smaller amounts, you should seek medical advice.

Fever and severe pain

See a doctor as soon as possible if they occur. However, these could be symptoms of constipation and it may be worth trying to recall when you last went to the toilet.

Stomach pain with cramps

Stomach pain with cramps is a common problem. Many people complain of stomach pain with cramps affecting their everyday life. Stomach pain with cramps can be a symptom of constipation and can have various causes, including: dietary, stress and changes in routine. In some cases an antispasmodic like Buscopan ® can be used to treat these symptoms. However, it’s best you speak to your doctor first.

Bloated stomach

If your stomach feels bloated, there are many possible and usually harmless reasons. If the feeling occurs straight after eating, it could be that fibre-rich fatty foods are the catalyst. If you can make no clear temporal connection to mealtimes, it could be a gastrointestinal issue. If not enough good bacteria is available in the digestive system, it can lead to a build up of gas and bloating. Too little movement in the small intestine, brought about by sitting too long, is another possible cause of a bloated stomach.

Alternating constipation and diarrhea

Have you used some unusual ingredients or spices lately? Or have you tried a new restaurant? Diarrhoea is a natural reaction by the body when it wants to get rid of harmful matter quickly. In most cases, this is caused by a mild case of food poisoning. The stool is slimy or watery. Constipation and diarrhoea occurring alternately can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome and should be investigated. Other common causes of this are stress, tension and anxiety.

Loss of appetite

A loss of appetite can occur with all of us. It is usually irregular and lasts a short while. But if your loss of appetite is lasting without a discernible cause and lasts more than a few days it should be examined by a doctor. A lack of appetite can have numerous physical or psychological causes, including stress or personal problems. However, a loss of appetite associated with tummy problems could be due to constipation.