This condition often leads to constipation or diarrhoea.
Constipation means irregular or painful bowel movements.
Many factors can cause it:
- A diet lacking in fibre: fruit, vegetables, cereals etc.
- Lack of exercise
- Psychological difficulties: some people ignore or delay the need to go to the toilet
- Some medecines, especially morphine-based
- Neurological diseases (Parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, stroke), endocrine conditions (diabetes, hypothyroïdism) or metabolic disorders (hypercalcemia)
- Pregnancy (hormonal changes and pressure exerted on the intestine)
- Age: slower digestion and less exercise
Diarrhoea means passing looser stools than normal and frequent bowel movements (3 or more per day). Acute diarrhoea is defined as lasting less than 14 days. Chronic diarrhoea lasts longer.
Diarrhoea can be caused by:
- An excessively fibre-rich diet (e.g. aspartame, polyol: maltitol, sorbitol, mannitol etc.)
- Bacteria or parasites: food poisoning
- Virus: gastroenteritis
- Inflammatory disease (such as Crohn’s disease)
- Some medicine, such as antibiotics
Treatment depends on severity and causes. Often a change in diet and more regular exercise is sufficient to solve the problem. In any case, be sure to drink enough water and eat enough fibre.