Bloating & Sluggish bowels

Many people – again, almost all of them women – experience degrees of difficulty with their bowels that they wouldn’t really describe as “constipation” but which still cause them quite a lot of bother. Such symptoms might be abdominal bloating and discomfort, a feeling of abdominal fullness and even heaviness or the need to strain to effect a bowel action. In some cases it is more of a tendency to develop constipation in specific circumstances only, perhaps associated with travel or when there is a change of lifestyle such as a new diet or a new job. Alternatively, your complaint might be that you need to be especially vigilant with diet, ensuring that a constant fibre intake is maintained to avoid becoming blocked; or that you need to take laxatives from time to time, quite literally to “unblock”.

All of these complaints are really just lesser degrees of what we might usually call constipation. But people simply don’t like to see themselves as suffering from constipation even when their symptoms are almost identical. Importantly, the strategies that are effective in the treatment of constipation are equally beneficial for those suffering from lesser degrees of the same. Yet people’s reluctance to see their symptoms for what truly are often means that they are not offered the best treatment strategies or, worse still, they are offered them but then reject them as being the treatment for a problem they cannot accept they have.

From my perspective, one of the major challenges I face in looking after people with bowel disorders is getting them to accept that they have a problem that requires treatment. They openly admit to being uncomfortable, even unhappy. But an important step for them is to see that their bloating and straining will only best respond to treatments that we regularly apply to people with “constipation”. If you are bloated and “full”, if you strain when having your bowels open, if you need to take laxatives from time to time (or more often), the strategies outlined for treatment (see Treating Constipation) on this website are likely to be every bit as effective as for those with more established degrees of constipation.

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