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Everyone poops, the name of a children's book, is a great book for toddlers who enter the developmental stage where they become fascinated by poop. The thing is by the time we begin to age, poop becomes a taboo subject. (That is until the age when it becomes the topic of conversation again.) In some families people come up with alternative names or pet names per se to avoid outwardly talking about it. Some families prefer to be formal or even clinical about bowel functions using bowel movement or stool perhaps even feces.

You might wonder why I'm writing about poop. That's a good question. Usually I write about topics that come up in my everyday life as a nurse and care manager.

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Since the new year has begun, it's all about poop. Yep that's right poop. I'm not sure whether it's a phenomenon like the moon is in the 7th house and Jupiter aligns with Mars ... or if it's just the inevitable cycle of life, where bowel functions seem to occupy the minds of many. Or maybe it could be related to all the junk we may have put in our bodies during the holidays.

I get it, as we get older the body changes things don't move the way they once did. It's an age-old problem. Add medications and other health issues and things slow down. However here's the deal, if you don't hydrate, don't move enough, don't eat enough of the right stuff and just sit you will suffer from the dreaded constipation.

Constipation is often a part of one's constitution. Some tend toward constipation others will say they are pretty regular and others may tend toward frequency. This doesn't even begin to address the numerous bowel diseases such as IBS — irritable bowel syndrome — Chrohn's disease, ulcerative colitis just to name a few.

Just like any other system in the body our bowels need water to work their best. When we don't drink enough water or drink too much sugar or not enough drinks with natural fiber our bowels react to what they get or don't get enough of. Water provides the needed liquid to keep the stool from being hard and aids in motility through the bowel. Too much sugar can cause loose or even diarrhea stools.

It's not uncommon for chronic constipation to actually begin to affect the quality of one's life. People may try one remedy after another or begin mixing combinations. It can become a big mess.

It's best to consult your physician and, if necessary, see a Gastroenterologist. A specialist may give suggestions and recommendations based on your symptoms as well as evaluate the need for testing to make sure nothing more serious is going on and that your GI system is healthy.

When bowel issues become the focus of everyday life — "I can't go out because I took a laxative today," or, "I'm too uncomfortable" — then it's time to address the problem.

Some can even develop "Bowel Obsession Syndrome."

While BOS is not frequently diagnosed, trust me, it's real and out there. It can be related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety or panics attacks.

The first step is realizing that there is a problem. Determining what is normal in terms of bowel habits is important. Some people have a skewed viewpoint of normal. Some use the word constipation if they don't have multiple BMs per day. This is not considered constipation!

The point is, if the focus of your life has become poop, then it's time to consult a physician. It may be time to consult a therapist to address obsession through cognitive behavioral therapy.

If the usual constipation has gotten you down it may be that you eaten a bunch of crap (pun intended) over the holidays and now it's time to get into a healthier pattern.

Eat well, include lots of fiber containing foods such as fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water and get moving. Consider that bagel you had for breakfast a lump of lead just sitting there in your bowel!

And one more thing ... your kids don't really want to hear about poop.

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Jill Rosner is a registered nurse, certified geriatric care manager and owner of Rosner Healthcare Navigation. She provides patient advocacy and care management services to clients with health and aging issues. Contact her at JillRosnerRN@aol.com.

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