What Is Constipation?

What Is Constipation?

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Constipation occurs in all people regardless of age and it is characterized by three scenarios:

  • Not passing stool regularly
  • Unable to empty the bowel
  • Having hard and lumpy stools.

Constipation affects everyone differently; no two people have the same symptoms. Some may experience constipation for a short time, while others have the discomfort for a long period (chronic). Regardless of how constipation occurs, one thing is clear, it will affect your quality of life.

Why Does It Happen?

Constipation is caused by various factors like:

  • Poor diet

A diet devoid of fiber and insufficient water intake causes constipation. Soluble fiber dissolves in water creating a soft-like gel that moves in the digestive system making the stool soft. Furthermore, it causes waste to bulk making it easy to pass through the intestine to the rectum.

Water also makes the stool soft. Insufficient water intake, therefore, can interfere with your bowel movement.

  • Taking dairy and dairy products

Dairy can cause constipation in people especially children who are sensitive to the protein in cow’s milk. Furthermore, dairy also causes lactose-intolerance triggering diarrhea rather than constipation.

Other causes include:

  • Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Side effects of some medications
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Colon cancer
  • Pregnancy

What are the Signs of Constipation?

Constipation is the inability to pass stools fewer times than normal. ‘Normal’ is relative based on the person. Some people have a bowel movement one to three times a day, while others once every three days. However, not passing stools for more than three days is a problem.

Having hard, lumpy, and dry stools can also be a sign of constipation. Other constipation symptoms may include stomach cramps, being bloated, loss of appetite, and feeling sickly.

What is the Recommended Treatment?

Constipation can be managed at home with simple and easy remedies. A change in diet and lifestyle is the best constipation treatment. You can also:

  • Increase the intake of fiber by adding fruits and vegetables. However, don’t over-consume as too much fiber can also lead to constipation
  • Limit intake of dairy and dairy products
  • Increase water intake unless ordered by the doctor to limit it
  • Exercise regularly to keep your muscles active. When you move, the muscles including intestinal ones move and tighten.
  • Pass bowel movement as frequent as possible

Our doctor may also recommend laxatives to ease the discomfort. A variety of laxatives are available and all work differently. Consult the doctor on the best laxative to use and how long you should take them.

When are Constipation and Emergency?

As aforementioned, constipation symptoms clear with a change in lifestyle. However, you should seek medical attention when you experience:

  • Sudden belly pain with cramps
  • You aren’t able to pass stools at all
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • Severe bowel movement
  • The size of your stool has changed dramatically
  • Constipation symptoms have lasted for more than two weeks

When you visit us, our physician in Germantown, MD, will do a diagnostic test to check your hormone levels and a colonoscopy to check for blockages in the colon.

Are There Any Complications?

Chronic constipation can lead to complications like rectal bleeding characterized by profuse bleeding from the rectum. You may also develop piles or hemorrhoids—swollen blood vessels in the rectum.

Fecal impaction is also a condition that may develop due to long-term constipation. Fecal impaction is caused by hard and dried stools that form in your rectum. You can’t get rid of the fecal matter naturally and you will need intestinal cleaning to get rid of it.

Fecal impaction because of hard stool can make constipation worse. Impaction can also cause other conditions such as swelling of the rectum, bowel incontinence and loss of sensitivity.

How Can You Prevent Constipation?

Constipation can be prevented with a few changes in your lifestyle. Start by eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Additionally, try to limit your caffeine intake which can be dehydrating and reduce stress.

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