Health blog
Jan 23, 2023

Understanding Chronic Constipation: Symptoms and Causes

Understanding Chronic Constipation: Symptoms and Causes

Constipation is very common in the general population around the world and can affect people of all ages. It is usually accompanied by various symptoms such as abdominal discomfort and/or gas depending on how severe it is.

Though occasional constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation that disrupts their daily lives by reducing their energy and enthusiasm. People that suffer from constipation generally need more medical visits which can also be a financial burden.

Treatment for chronic constipation depends in part on the underlying cause. However, in some cases, a cause is never found.

Symptoms:

Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation can include:

  • Passing fewer than three stools a week
  • Trouble having bowel movements
  • Hard or small stools
  • Bloating and abdominal pain
  • Feeling that everything didn’t come out

Constipation may be considered chronic if you've experienced two or more of these symptoms, lasting three months.

Causes:

Constipation can have many possible causes that vary from person to person. Quite often, there can be no obvious reason as to why constipation has developed.

The most common causes include:

  • Not eating enough fibre
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Eating a lot of dairy or meat products
  • Not exercising or moving around enough and sitting or lying for long periods of time
  • Often ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • A change in your daily routine or diet
  • A side effect of medication

Prevention:

The following can help you avoid developing chronic constipation.

  • Increase the amount of fibre in your diet. High fibre foods include fruits, vegetables beans, and whole grains.
  • Avoid or consume less highly processed foods. Dairy and meat products can also affect bowel movements.
  • Ensure you are getting at least 2 litres of water a day.
  • Avoid too much caffeine; a little caffeine tends to get things moving but too much can dehydrate you and potentially cause constipation.
  • Get regular exercise and stay active.
  • Manage your stress and anxiety levels.
  • Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge and don’t put it off.
Want to know more? Read our latest blog ‘Six Ways to Avoid Constipation’ here.

Natural Treatments:

Recent research indicates that the consumption of a water-soluble fibre will increase the weekly frequency of bowel movements. This soluble fibre is digested and fermented by gut bacteria. As a fermentable soluble fibre, it is believed to contribute to a healthy gut, increasing stool frequency as well as improving stool consistency. Recent studies show that the fibre has prebiotic effects, which means promoting the growth of beneficial microbes in the gut and decreasing the bad bacteria, which may help people suffering from constipation.

Clinical Trials to advance knowledge

There is a need for safe and effective first-line interventions for the broad population that suffer from constipation symptoms, which may resolve without the need for medicine. Medications to treat severe constipation can be costly and come with side effects.

Clinical Trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy or treatment is effective with the help of volunteers. These trials help develop knowledge and ultimately help chronic constipation patients worldwide.

Current Constipation Studies

Mild to Moderate Constipation: 

Atlantia Clinical Trials are currently looking for adults aged 18-70 to take part in a research study. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a fibre supplement on those with mild to moderate constipation (classed in this study as 3-5 bowel movements per week).

Over a 3-month period, successful participants will take the fibre supplement or placebo product daily for 2 months, track their bowel movements daily with an e-diary app, and visit Atlantia's clinic in Blackpool 5 times.

Each participant will receive €450 upon completion of the study in return for their time and any expenses.

To learn more about our current Mild to Moderate Constipation study or apply to take part, click here.

Severe Constipation: 

Atlantia Clinical Trials are currently looking for adults aged 18-75 to take part in a research study. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a food supplement on those with severe constipation (classed in this study as 1-2 bowel movements per week).

Over a 2-month period, successful participants will take the food supplement or placebo product daily for 6 weeks, track their bowel movements daily with an e-diary app, and visit Atlantia's clinic in Blackpool three times.

Each participant will receive €450 upon completion of the study in return for their time and any expenses.

To learn more about our current Chronic Constipation study or apply to take part, click here.

Get in touch!

Our team can guide you. Schedule a meeting with our research experts to discuss your clinical research program today.