Diet and Food

Bowel Problems

How the bowel functions

The digestive system works by pushing food through the intestines which usually takes between 24 to 72 hours. Muscular contractions squeeze (peristalsis) the food through the different sections of the intestine. These different sections are separated by bands of muscles, or sphincters, which act as valves. The passage of food from one area of the intestines to another is coordinated so that food stays in a specific area for long enough for the gut to do a particular job – absorb fluids and nutrients, or process and expel waste.

There are videos that how the bowel works, and how bowel incontinence and/or chronic constipation impacts transit.


Speak to your GP

To help prepare for an appointment with your GP it is useful to share information on what you have been experiencing to date. Your self-assessment and information pack will give you the necessary details to help your GP understand this.

Things to remember

Don’t be embarrassed, and don’t think you are alone. As you make arrangements to see your GP, it’s important to understand that there are around 2 million people suffering with chronic constipation – people just like you who are seeking help.

There are treatments that work. With the right treatment and support you can soon be enjoying a good bowel management routine that allows you to live life to the full.

Give it time. Once you have been seen by your GP and have been recommended a treatment it is useful to evaluate how things are going and if the treatment you are taking is proving successful for you. It is important to remember that some treatments may take time to take effect. If however, you are still experiencing symptoms of chronic constipation after a phase of treatment, we strongly recommend you revisit your GP to discuss an alternative.

Further support

Contact us to discuss your experiences

If you would like to discuss your treatment and gain further help, please contact us. One of our specialist advisors will be able to advise in total discretion on what your next steps could be.

Alternatives to your GP

If you would prefer not to discuss treatment options with your GP, you might want to talk to a local continence advisor.