Dr Zoe Williams advises getting a 'squatty potty' for constipation
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Between cheese platters and pigs in blankets, your Christmas menu probably wasn’t too kind on your stomach. If the variety of indulgent but stodgy meals has left you with constipation, there’s plenty you can do to make going for a number two less painful. An expert has shared how to improve this uncomfortable problem and other issues that could be stirring up painful pooping.
Michelle Geraghty-Corns, founder of Eternal Being, said: “There are a number of reasons why someone might find pooping painful, with constipation being an incredibly common issue.
“Your diet, stress, dehydration, gut allergies, medication, pregnancy, and lack of movement are just a few of the reasons why you can become constipated, where you experience pain while having a bowel movement, hard and dry stool, and have fewer than three bowel movements a week.”
The Christmas period, which is characterised by a poor diet and lack of movement, creates perfect conditions for this problem.
Dairy products, red meat and alcohol can all exacerbate constipation, leaving your tummy in distress.
Spire Healthcare explains that water gets absorbed when food moves through your gut.
But the lack of fibre in your festive menu can leave food passing too slowly through the gut, which means too much water gets absorbed.
The health portal adds: “This causes hard stools that are difficult and painful to pass out of your body; you may also feel pain or discomfort in your lower gut due to backed up stools.
“If this occurs and you are passing stools less than three times a week, you have constipation.”
Fortunately, adding more fibre to your diet and drinking plenty of fluids could help tackle painful pooping.
Apart from fruit and veg, good sources of fibre include wholemeal or granary bread, wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
While festive period is all about enjoying yourself, some foods and drinks can increase your risk of constipation. So, you might want to consider cutting down on the following:
- Dairy products
- Fried foods
- Highly processed grains (white flour and white bread)
- Red meat.
While Christmas snacks and favourites could be responsible for the lack of bowel movements and painful number twos, Geraghty-Corns warned that sometimes there are more serious problems to blame.
The expert said: “If you find yourself constipated, this could be the sign of a more serious problem such as blockages in the colon or rectum.
“I would advise you to see a doctor if you experience constipation with weight loss, severe pain, or bleeding.
“Another common reason for pooping to be painful is anal fissures, where the skin around the anus has torn.
“This can occur when you find it difficult to pass a hard stool.”
Other telltale signs that could help identify anal fissures include pain while having a bowel movement, bright red blood on your stool or loo roll, and a small lump or skin tag near the anal fissure.
“This often heals on its own, but you may need to see a professional for a prescription cream, medication or supplements to support the healing,” Geraghty-Corns added.
Although this is less common, constipation could also point to various cancers, including anal and pancreatic cancer. This further highlights the importance of getting persistent constipation checked by a doctor.
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