Constipation is a very common gastrointestinal disorder in many people across the world.11
While it is not a life-threatening condition and can be managed at primary healthcare level, it is associated with a negative impact on the quality of life for many patients and has considerable economic costs associated with it.11
Good dietary habits, fluid intake, and regular exercise may ease defaecation. In addition, good defaecation habits are recommended to avoid chronic constipation.1
Defaecation-related habits are important factors associated with constipation and are often due to defaecation concerns.1
Bad habits in case of constipation1:
The first habit you can eliminate when constipated is to postpone the time to go the bathroom.1 It may sound logical in order to increase your chances of emptying your bowel… but it is not recommended at all! In fact, this can on the contrary make the situation worse. This can happen because of a reluctance to go to the toilet, because you don’t prefer the use of toilets in certain situations or avoid defaecation anywhere but at home.1
These bad habits – or maybe for other reasons like a busy job with a lot of travel – can lead to an irregular dafaecation schedule.
Regularity is key
Many people are unable to defaecate in toilets outside of their homes and postpone their bowel movement until they are home again, but the urge to defaecate, once home, may have passed. This results in an irregular defaecation schedule and possible constipation.1
Voluntarily postponing a bowel movement can reduce colonic transit speed, leading to fewer evacuation events with smaller/fewer stools.1
Pay attention to signals of the need to pass a stool, and do not ignore the ‘call to stool’. The body’s signal to have a bowel movement should not be ignored.2
Go to the toilet when you get the urge, as this is the most effective time to completely empty your bowels.3
It is also a good idea to go to the toilet at a usual time of the day, to keep a regular defaecation schedule. Enhance normal bowel function and attempt to defaecate after meals, especially in the morning when bowel movement is highest. 2 Even if not always a success, it will help to re-educate your bowel and get your routine back.
1: Cerdán-Santacruz C, López MO, et al. Do bad habits bring a double constipation risk? Turk J Gastroenterol 2018;29:580–587.
2: Sibanda M, Meyer JC, et al. Chronic constipation in adults. S Afr Pharm J. 2018;85(1):34-42.
3: Continence Foundation of Australia. Prevention. The Facts. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.continence.org.au/pages/prevention.html (Accessed 12 March 2019).