‘Blocked up: Who wants to talk about constipation discomfort?’

Aug 29, 2021
Knowing how common constipation is among the over-60s, Sue wondered why people didn't talk about it more. Source: Getty Images

Finding it difficult to poo isn’t a topic we like to discuss (often, not even with our GP). Infrequent discharging of faecal matter can be a problem, especially for those of us in our advancing years. Sure, we’ve all had the occasional bout in the past. Certain medications can cause it, as does a lack of fibre in the diet and not enough exercise. As we age though, those causes are often part of our lives. We take more medication, don’t eat as well, and many of us can’t carry out sufficient exercise.

While occasional constipation is common, when it interferes with your ability to go about your daily tasks it might be time to see a health care professional. There are many possible causes for chronic constipation, including blockages in the colon or rectum, problems with the nerves around the colon and rectum prevent the stool from moving through the intestines, conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disorders that affect the balance of fluid in your body, and problems with your pelvic muscles.

“Oh, shit” (pardon the pun), I thought, “I didn’t know any of that.”

In terms of diet, I consider mine to be good. I cook all my meals myself. They are generally comprised of lots of vegetables and a small amount of meat (as much from an economic point of view).

I have mobility issues, so admittedly I don’t get much exercise. Other than my puffers, I don’t take any pharmaceutical medications. However, recently I’ve found ‘pooing’ difficult. In fact, it’s been a right royal pain in the bum. Passing a stool felt like pooping a bowling bowl that ended up being a marble. It was worse than childbirth — and I’ve given birth to two healthy baby boys, so I know what that is like!

This recent constipation led me to purchase a mild, natural laxative. I took it daily, but nothing was happening and I felt like crap (again, pardon the pun). In desperation, I upped the dose. Then, Eureka!

All humour aside, constipation is an unpleasant issue, but we shouldn’t feel frightened to talk about it. Not pooping can have such a negative impact on our health, so it’s important to seek treatment when you experience the problem. This might involve doing more than just eating your Weet-bix or multigrain bread, adding more vegetables to your diet, and moving (any which way you can).

Have you ever been constipated? Have you sought medical assistance to deal with constipation?

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