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Hard Stools: Know the Causes, Risks, and Treatment Methods

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If you've noticed that your stools feel harder than they have before, something that often causes pain while going to the bathroom, you'll probably be wondering why this is happening and what you can do to prevent it. Here's a quick overview of things that you need to know.

What Causes Hard Stools?

Hard stools are normally the result of constipation, which medical experts define as occurring when a patient experiences fewer than three bowel movements each week. Constipation causes stools to remain in the gastrointestinal tract (GI) tract for longer than they should. This often leaves people who are suffering feeling bloated, lethargic, and gassy. It also means that any fluids in the stool are reabsorbed into the body. This is what causes the stool to become harder than normal.

However, it is worth remembering that it is possible to have hard stools while still having frequent bowel movements. Luckily, prevention methods are similar in either case.

Why Are Hard Stools Problematic?

It's pretty obvious that nobody would choose to have hard stools since they can be quite painful to pass. That said, many people still dismiss the problem as something that isn't serious enough to demand attention. Unfortunately, the condition can present serious complications if left untreated.

As the stool is pushed out of the rectum, haemorrhoids can develop as the blood vessels around your anus become sore and swollen. This will cause pain while sitting, and it can also cause bleeding. Additionally, pushing out hard stools actually weakens the muscles that your body uses to hold in urine and faeces; the weakening of these muscles can lead to a lack of control.

What Can You Do About Hard Stools?

The first thing to think about is your diet. People who have hard stools are often missing out on the correct amount of dietary fibre each day. High-fibre foods include fruits, beans, nuts, and whole grains, so make sure you're getting enough. The average adult is recommended to take in at least 30g of dietary fibre each day.

You'll also want to make sure you drink enough water. Dehydration is often the cause of hard stools that are not a result of constipation; there simply won't be enough fluid to keep the stool soft, even if it is passed within a normal time frame.

Finally, make sure you speak to your local GP if the problem persists. They will be able to take a stool sample to see if anything more serious is to blame. You could also be prescribed some medical stool softeners to take care of the problem if nothing else will.

For more information, contact a clinic like Travellers Medical Services.