Passing hard stool very often is a typical sign of constipation. Other than this, constipation encompasses reduction in the frequency of bowel movement, difficulty in defecation, incomplete evacuation and straining while passing stool. The main reason for this discomfort condition is malfunction of the bowel. For any case of hard or impacted stool, finding out what causes it is as important as learning the treatment guidelines. This will help in minimizing the causal factors and avoiding the same bowel problem in future.
Causes of Hard Stool
People who are frequently constipated know the discomfort and pain associated with it. Passing hard stool is commonly reported in babies too. A major cause for hard bowel movements is delaying in defecation. While this happens to everyone at some point or the other, making it a habit can lead to various problems, of which constipation is one of them. People diagnosed with hypothyroidism and diabetes may experience difficulty in passing bowel and hard stool. Listed below are the probable hard stool causes and triggers.
- Not drinking sufficient water and fluids
- Lack of fiber in the daily diet
- Consuming processed foods and poor diet
- Too much intake of dairy products
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Overuse of stool softeners and laxatives
- Traveling and activities that disturb the normal routine
- Eating disorders and stressful conditions
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Colon stricture, hemorrhoids and colon cancer
Treatment for Hard Stool
While there is no actual definition for normal bowel movement, any deviation from the regular frequency and stool texture is not a good sign. Before you look out for stool remedies and over-the-counter medications, make necessary changes in your regular bowel habit (if applicable). Always make it a point to use the toilet, whenever you feel the urge to defecate. Postponing will only worsen constipation and stomach discomfort problems.
More Water and Fluids
As mentioned already, lack of water and fluids is a prime cause for hard stools. When there is no enough fluid, the colon absorbs moisture from the waste materials, resulting in impacted stool. So a simple solution to ensure normal bowel movement is drinking adequate amounts of water and other healthy fluids. For treating hard stools in infants, allow them to sip warm water through the feeding bottle.
Include Fiber Foods
Dietary fiber plays a crucial role in forming the bulk of waste materials before defecation. Nevertheless, having fiber rich foods without drinking enough exacerbates the problem, instead of relieving it. Thus, for treating constipation and hard stool, incorporate fiber foods (fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, pulses, etc.), and at the same time, drink sufficient water.
You already have several items in the kitchen, which serve as effective remedies for hard stool. Fruits like apple, prunes, papaya, pear, lemon juice, oranges and molasses are used for addressing constipation in a natural way. Another remedy is to drink an Epsom salt solution by dissolving ¼ teaspoon of salt in half a glass of water. This method works for a hard stool problems in adults.
Stay Active and Fit
Exercising aids in proper digestion of food particles. All your efforts for treatment of hard stool will go waste, if you are not performing movement activities. Yes, activating the bowel muscles to defecate is crucial for normal bowel habit. You don't have to get busy in strenuous activities. Walking, jogging or swimming for half an hour daily is sufficient for the body to induce normal defecation, when coupled with healthy diet and sufficient water intake.
Intake of caffeinated drinks, smoking habit and increased alcohol consumption are all contributing factors to hard stool formation and constipation. Avoid these triggers and most likely, the incidences of constipation will reduce. Last but not the least, do not pop laxative medications, even if they are based on natural ingredients. They weaken the bowel muscles in the long run leading to frequent constipation.
Never apply the remedies for constipation in adults for babies, unless they are directed by the pediatrician. Infants are extremely sensitive to unusual ingredients (both natural or chemical) and may respond severely. In a nutshell, hard stool by itself is not a serious medical complication. But if you experience a sudden onset of constipation symptoms, get yourself examined by a physician. Prompt action is also indicated for those who pass hard stool without any signs of improvement, even after adopting the above methods.