Skip to main content
Home » Bladder and bowel » Lifestyle changes can help manage chronic constipation
Bladder and Bowel Q2 2022

Lifestyle changes can help manage chronic constipation

iStock / Getty Images Plus

Gemma Savory

Community Marketing Manager, Bladder and Bowel Community

Louise Hulme

Living with chronic constipation

One in seven adults and one in three children in the UK have constipation at any one time. A condition that can be easily resolved in most, yet many people are needlessly suffering.1

Louise Hulme, aged 45, from Gravesend has suffered from chronic constipation since 2018, after a complication with ulcerative colitis (UC) caused her bowel to stop working.

“In 2018, I started experiencing stomach cramps, sickness and dizziness and I was unable to pass stools for seven days. I went to hospital and was told I was severely constipated. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 16. Up until this point, my symptoms had been mild, I was told my constipation was most likely caused by my UC. I was given enemas to help clear the impacted stool, but I have been suffering with chronic constipation since.

“Initially when I was diagnosed, it was recommended that I change my diet and increase my activity. I now eat a high fibre diet and cutting out bread has done wonders for me. I started practising yoga and meditation. This has made a big difference to my condition.

Challenges of living with chronic constipation

“Mostly, I have my condition under control but living with chronic constipation can be challenging. I don’t feel like I have any support from family or friends because of the nature of the condition and it has taken a toll on my private life.

“The advice I would give to people with this condition is don’t fight it, work with it. Making some easy life adjustments can really make a difference.”

What is constipation?

  • Bowel movements occurring fewer than three times a week.
  • Stools are dry, hard, or lumpy and can be abnormally large or small.
  • In practice, constipation is defined as the passage of stools less frequently than the person’s normal pattern.
  • Chronic constipation usually describes symptoms, which are present for at least three months.2

The advice I would give to people with this condition is don’t fight it, work with it.

Louise Hulme

What can I do about constipation?3

  • Increase your water intake and slowly increase the amount of fibre you eat.
  • Allow enough time to go to the toilet and try to keep to a regular time each day.
  • Do not ignore the urge to go to the toilet.
  • If possible, raise your knees above your hips using a stool for optimal position.
  • Increase your level of activity such as walking or running.
  • Visit your GP to see if there is an underlying condition or any medications that could be contributing to your constipation.

Please consult your GP before following any advice in this article.

Find out more about the Bladder and Bowel Community

[1] The 2020 BIG report₁
[2] NICE
[3] NHS

Next article