Constipation is when a person is suffering from the infrequent or tough passing of bowels that can last from several days to as long as several weeks. Constipation is a pretty common among adults, and almost everyone experiences it in their lifetime. Although constipation is highly common, those suffering from chronic constipation may have to suffer from excessive straining that can interfere with their day-to-day life.
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Causes of Constipation
Constipation is caused when stool moves slowly through the digestive tract and cannot be eliminated through the rectum, this causes the stool to become hard and dry. Below are common causes of constipation:
- Changes in diet or exercise
- Consuming a lot of dairy products
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Not drinking enough of water
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- Certain prescription medications
- Colon or rectal cancer
Symptoms of Constipation
Passing a bowel can vary from person to person from several times a day to only a few times a week. Going longer than more than three days without a bowel movement is usually considered too long. Common symptoms of constipation include the following:
- Less than three bowel movements a week
- Straining and having trouble with having a bowel movement
- Hard stools
- Feeling as if the stool has not been completely emptied from the rectum
If these symptoms have been occurring for more than three months, this may be considered chronic. Contact your doctor if you have been experiencing changes in your bowel habits for a lengthy period of time.
Treatment for Constipation
Modifying lifestyle habits are the first steps to treating constipation. Increasing water intake and changes to diet should increase the speed the stool will move through the intestines. Medications or surgery may be recommended by a doctor if these lifestyle changes do not help ease symptoms. Below are some additional treatment options for constipation:
- Laxatives: There are several over the counter options for laxatives, including fiber supplements, lubricants, and stool softeners.
- Medications that draw water into your intestines
- Other prescription medications to treat chronic constipation
- Strong: Surgery is an option to treat chronic constipation that is caused by any blockage or the rectum.
There are definitely changes that can be made to prevent constipation, including:
- Eating a well-balanced diet full of fiber
- Drinking a sufficient amount of water
- Cut back on dairy products
- Being active
For further information on treating constipation or if you would like to schedule a consultation or appointment with your physician, contact Colorectal Surgery Associates, PC at (816) 941-0800.