What is Constipation? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint resulting in 2.5 million doctor visits per year. (1) Generally, it is considered constipated when a person has fewer than three bowel movements per week or has difficulty passing stool. In total, about 16 percent of the population experiences symptoms of constipation. 

Constipation is a common digestive problem that negatively affects daily life. Constipation, characterized by hard, hard and irregular defecation, is an uncomfortable condition faced by many people. But don’t worry, there are effective strategies for understanding and managing this problem.

In this article, you’ll discover everything from the causes of constipation to symptoms and treatment options. Constipation is often associated with factors such as a low fiber diet, insufficient water intake, a sedentary lifestyle, hormonal changes, and certain health conditions. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, difficulty defecating and irregular stools.

Fortunately, there are workable solutions to combat constipation. In our article, you will learn about the positive effects of lifestyle changes (drinking more water, consuming fiber-rich foods, exercising regularly, etc.) on constipation. You will also learn about the medications and treatment options your doctor may recommend.

Remember that it is important to deal with constipation, as prolonged constipation can lead to more serious problems. In our article, we will highlight the importance of early intervention and appropriate treatment strategies while describing the complications and long-term health risks associated with constipation.

If you are struggling with constipation, this article can be your resource. Packed with expert advice, practical tips and informative content, our article will help you develop a comprehensive understanding of constipation.

While constipation can be troubling (and sometimes distressing), it is considered a symptom rather than a disease in itself.

It’s also important to know that normal bowel habits can vary greatly from person to person – some people may defecate several times a day; others once or twice a week. Constipation, like other symptoms, becomes a problem when it is distressing or bothersome for the patient and interferes with their daily life.

Constipation Signs and Symptoms #constipationsymptoms #constipationsymptoms

  • Lumpy, dry, or hard stools
  • stool that is difficult or painful to pass
  • A feeling of congestion in your rectum
  • Feeling of not fully ejaculating
  • Inability to empty the rectum without help (yes, it does!)

Constipation Causes and Risk Factors #causes of constipation #risk factors

  • Pelvic floor disorders and delayed bowel emptying as a result of colon surgery
  • Irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Certain medications and dietary supplements (anthallides, calcium supplements, anticholinergics, antispasmodics, etc.)
  • Changing life routine (travel, pregnancy, aging)
  • Lack of fiber, dehydration, lack of exercise
  • The habit of ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Laxative and enema abuse

ConstipationAlso, medical conditions that cause constipation can include: irritable bowel syndrome, tumors or disabilities, celiac disease, colon polyps, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and nerve damage.

Although constipation can affect anyone, women, older adults (over 65), those with depression or mental health problems, pregnant women, people who have just given birth, and those who have had surgery are at higher risk.

How Is Constipation Diagnosed?

Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical examination, which in some cases may include a gentle rectal examination with a gloved and lubricated finger.

Because drug interactions are one of the leading causes of constipation, the medical history will include details about any medications or medications you take. Your doctor will also talk to you about your diet and physical activity level to make sure you’re drinking enough water and fiber. Lack of any of these can also contribute to constipation. 

Depending on the severity and duration of the constipation and other associated symptoms, they may recommend a series of routine blood tests (for example, to look for hypothyroidism) as well as urine and stool tests. Other diagnostic tests may include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and in rare cases, imaging tests.

But these tests are typically only done if initial lifestyle interventions — such as increases in water and fiber intake and physical activity — don’t resolve constipation first.

A patient checklist of questions can also be helpful in diagnosis, and in particular to gauge severity, duration, and appropriate options for additional testing and treatment:

  1. Is it painful to poop?
  2. Do I have to force or use manual assistance to help remove the poop?
  3. Does bright red blood come out of my stool when I poop?
  4. Do I notice any other worrying or new symptoms, such as fatigue, hair loss, or sensitivity to cold?
  5. Have I tried lifestyle changes like increased fiber, warm water with lemon, Metamucil, and increased water intake?

Constipation Duration

It is perfectly normal to have occasional short bouts of constipation. But if it lasts for several weeks at a time, it’s considered chronic. (If the problem persists for more than three weeks, it makes sense to see your doctor.) A 2018 review of the medical literature revealed that 16 percent of people complained of chronic constipation. 

  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza), prescribed to increase fluid in your digestive tract and increase the frequency of bowel movements
  • Medicines that promote regular bowel movements, such as linaclotide (Linzess) and plecanatide (these are often used to help people with chronic constipation caused by irritable bowel syndrome or IBS)
  • Prucalopride (this medicine helps your colon if you have chronic constipation with no known cause)

Prevention of Constipation

Pay attention to your body signals; If you have to go, go without delay. And don’t rush or force yourself to make it happen. Add some zen to your bathroom routine and relax.

Complications of Constipation

Constipation is mostly acute, meaning it comes on suddenly – for example while traveling – and lasts only a short time. But when it becomes chronic, watch out and see your doctor because chronic constipation can cause complications such as:

  • Hemorrhoids (swollen, inflamed veins in the rectum or around the anus that can cause rectal pain and bleeding)
  • Anal fissures (small tears in the skin around the anus, often accompanied by itching, pain, and bleeding)
  • Inability to push stool out as it hardens and collects too tightly in the colon and rectum
  • Rectal prolapse (a condition in which part of the rectum protrudes from the anus)

Related Conditions and Causes of Constipation

Constipation can be a symptom of a number of conditions, including: 

  • hypothyroidism
  • colorectal cancer
  • diverticular disease
  • Diabetes
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • intestinal obstruction
  • Neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
  • a defect in the digestive system
  • Pregnancy

Coping with Constipation: Practical Tips and Steps for a Healthy Life (Recommendations)

Constipation is a common condition among the problems in the digestive system. But don’t worry, there are effective ways to deal with constipation and you can take steps for a healthy digestive system.

It will guide you by providing practical advice and steps for healthy living to combat constipation . Constipation is often associated with factors such as a low fiber diet, insufficient water intake, inactivity, and stress. Therefore, you can follow these steps to prevent and treat constipation :

  1. Consume Foods with Fiber: Include foods rich in fiber such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes in your diet. Fiber increases stool bulk and can relieve constipation by promoting bowel movements.
  2. Drink Enough Water: Make sure to drink enough water daily to keep your body hydrated. Water helps soften stools and regulate bowel movements.
  3. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity encourages the proper functioning of the intestines. Exercising for at least 30 minutes a week can reduce the risk of constipation.
  4. Improve Toilet Habits: Take the time to go to the toilet when you need it and avoid unnecessary procrastination. Regularizing your bowel habits can help prevent constipation.
  5. Avoid Stress: Stress can have a negative effect on the digestive system. You can resort to techniques such as relaxation techniques, meditation or yoga to manage stress.
  6. Consider Nutritional Supplements: If you are having trouble getting enough fiber in your diet, you can use the nutritional supplements recommended by your doctor. However, always consult your doctor before using these supplements.

If constipation persists for a long time or your symptoms become severe, it is important to seek support from a healthcare professional. Your doctor will evaluate the situation and recommend appropriate treatment options for you.

Having healthy bowel functions is an indicator of your overall health. By following the above suggestions to deal with constipation, you can achieve a healthy digestive system and improve your quality of life.

 

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