When you start talking constipation the same questions will often crop up
How often is it normal to go to the loo?
Normal bowel habits vary from one person to another. Some adults go to the toilet more than once a day, whereas others may only go every 3 or 4 days.
Do women suffer from constipation more often than men?
Yes, constipation affects twice as many women as men.
The reasons for this are not entirely understood. Things can slow down during pregnancy and/or menopause because of hormones that relax the muscles – including the muscles in your bowel.
Do laxatives help with weight loss?
Categorically NO - laxatives are used to treat constipation and do not cause weight loss. Taking a laxative where there is no need for constipation relief will merely result in the loss of water, salts and nothing more. Please talk to your GP if you have any concerns regarding the use of laxatives.
Does constipation cause toxins to build-up in the body?
No. Experts say constipation doesn't cause a build-up of toxins in the body. There is also no evidence that constipation can lead to bowel cancer.
In some cases constipation can be a symptom of an obstruction somewhere in your intestines, so if you experience stomach pains or see traces of blood or mucus or in your stools contact your doctor immediately.
Can children use laxatives?
Doctors normally advise parents to try lifestyle changes first, like eating fibre-rich foods (particularly fruits and vegetables), taking regular exercise and increasing fluid intake.
If this doesn't work they may prescribe a laxative, but do not to give laxatives to children without first consulting a doctor.
How often can you use laxatives?
Standard medical advice is that laxatives that are available without prescription (like the Dulcolax® range) can be used from time to time for short term relief of occasional constipation.
You should see your doctor if you are often constipated - despite following lifestyle advice to prevent it - or if you have been constipated for more than 5 days.
You may be prescribed laxatives on a long term basis to counter the side effects of some medications or some medical conditions such as Parkinson's disease, but this will be under strict medical supervision.