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What is constipation?


What is constipation?

Stool passage is a constipation issue. Less than three stools per week or difficulty passing the stool are common indicators of constipation.

Constipation occurs rather frequently. Constipation can result from a low intake of dietary fiber, water, and activity. However, there could be other medical issues or certain medications to blame.

Usually, nonprescription medications or dietary and activity modifications are used to alleviate constipation. Medication, medication adjustments, or other therapies recommended by a medical expert may be necessary to relieve constipation.

Treating a different illness or condition that might induce or exacerbate constipation may be necessary for long-term constipation, often known as chronic constipation.


What is the prevalence of constipation?

You’re not the only one who has constipation. Constipation is among the most prevalent gastrointestinal problems in the United States. Every year, at least 2.5 million people seek medical attention due to constipation.


What causes constipation, and why?

Each has a unique pattern of bowel movement. The typical range is three times per day to three times per week. It’s crucial to know what constitutes normal for you as a result.

Stools moving through the colon, sometimes referred to as the large intestine, too slowly typically cause constipation. If it goes slowly, the body absorbs too much water from the stool. Stools can become stiff, dry, and difficult to pass.


Lifestyle factors

The following conditions may cause slow stool movement:

  1. Make sure you’re getting enough water.
  2. Consume adequate fiber in your diet.
  3. Engage in regular exercise.
  4. When the urge to pass stool strikes, use the restroom.


Certain medications, especially opioid painkillers, have the potential to cause constipation as a side effect. Certain medications used to treat the following disorders are among the others that may also induce constipation:

  1. Pain
  2. elevated blood pressure
  3. seizures
  4. Depression
  5. illnesses affecting the neurological system
  6. allergies
  7. issues with the muscles of the pelvis
  8. The pelvic floor muscles are those that support the organs at the base of the torso. To pass stool from the rectum, one must be able to bear down and relax these muscles. Chronic constipation may result from issues with these muscles’ weakness or coordination.


Blockages in the rectum or colon

Stool passage can be obstructed by alterations or damage to tissues in the colon or rectum. A blockage may also result from malignancies in the colon, rectum, or surrounding organs.

Additional elements

Numerous illnesses can impair the function of the hormones, muscles, or neurons involved in bowel movement. Numerous factors can be connected to chronic constipation, such as:

  1. Syndrome of irritable bowels
  2. Diabetes
  3. sclerosis multiplex
  4. injury or malfunction of the nerves
  5. Hyperthyroidism, another name for an overactive thyroid
  6. Parkinson’s illness
  7. maternity
  8. There are situations when the cause of persistent constipation is unknown.


How can one diagnose constipation?

Since most people have constipation occasionally, the tests a doctor performs will depend on the length and intensity of the condition. In addition, the patient’s age, any blood in the stool, any recent changes in bowel habits, and any weight loss will be considered by the physician.


Diagnoses for constipation could include

  • Medical history

The doctor will need to know about the symptoms, including how long they have lasted, how frequently you have bowel movements, and other facts in order to help determine the cause of your constipation.

  • Physical evaluation

A physical examination may also include a digital rectal examination (DRE), in which the doctor uses a gloved and lubricated finger to feel the tone of the muscle that closes off the anus. Additionally, this examination helps to detect any rectum growth, pain, blockage, blood, and the quantity and caliber of feces.

Additional diagnostic examinations could consist of

X-ray of the abdomen

Lower gastrointestinal (GI) series; alternatively known as barium enema. The rectum, the large intestine, and the lower portion of the small intestine are all examined during a lower GI series. An enema is used to inject barium, a metallic, chemical, chalky liquid, into the rectum to coat organs and make them visible on an X-ray. Abdominal X-rays reveal obstructions (blockages), strictures (narrowed regions), and other issues.


A colonoscopy provides a complete view of the large intestine to the doctor and is commonly used to find bleeding, ulcers, inflammatory tissue, and abnormal growths. To insert a colonoscope, a long, flexible, lighted tube must be passed through the rectum and into the colon. A doctor can examine the colon’s lining with a colonoscope, remove tissue samples for further examination, and possibly treat any problems that are discovered.


A physician’s examination of a portion of the large intestine during a diagnostic procedure known as a sigmoidoscopy can help identify the cause of irregular growth, bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach pain. A short, flexible, lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope is inserted into the colon through the rectum. The scope blows air into the intestines to expand it and make it easier to view within.


Examination of the colonic transit system

This examination shows how quickly food moves through the colon. The patient takes capsules that when seen on an X-ray, contain microscopic markers. The patient follows a high-fiber diet during the test, and three to seven days after the capsule is swallowed, many abdominal X-rays are taken in order to monitor the markers’ passage through the colon.

Anorectal function tests. These tests detect constipation caused by abnormal rectum or anus function.


How is constipation treated?

Based on the following information, your doctor will choose the best course of treatment for constipation:

  1. Your age, overall health, and medical history
  2. The degree of sickness severity
  3. Your tolerance for specific medications, therapies, or operations
  4. Expectations regarding the course of this sickness

The most popular treatments for constipation are dietary and lifestyle changes because they both lessen symptoms and can prevent the condition entirely. Potential therapy plan:

Diet adjustments

A daily fiber intake of 20 to 35 grams aids in the production of soft, viscous stools. While including foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and bran cereals can help increase the amount of fiber in the diet. Restricting foods that have little to no fiber, like processed foods, ice cream, cheeses, and meats, can also be beneficial.



If diet and lifestyle modifications don’t work, laxatives could be given. Removing or altering a prescription


Anorectal dysfunction-related chronic constipation is treated with biofeedback. The muscles that regulate the discharge of bowel motions are retrained during this treatment.

Adjusting one’s lifestyle to include drinking more water and juice, exercising frequently, and allocating adequate time each day for bowel motions might all be beneficial.


What negative effects could constipation have?

Two problems that might come from constipation are hemorrhoids, which are caused by straining to pass stool, and anal fissures, which are cracks in the skin surrounding the anus caused by hard stool stretching the sphincter muscle. This could lead to rectal bleeding.

Straining can also sometimes lead to rectal prolapse, a condition when a little part of the intestinal lining protrudes from the anal hole. Constipation can also result in fecal impaction, which mainly affects children and the elderly. Hard stool is crammed into the rectum and intestine to such an extent that the colon’s natural pushing activity cannot get rid of it.


Signs and symptoms

Constipation symptoms include:

  1. less than three excretions every week
  2. clumpy, hard, or dry stools
  3. strained or painful stools to pass
  4. a sensation that some excrement is still present
  5. a sensation of obstruction in the rectum
  6. the requirement to pass stool using a finger

If two or more of these symptoms persist for three months or more, it is considered chronic constipation.


When to see a doctor?

If any of the following conditions are causing your constipation, make an appointment with your doctor:

  • symptoms that last longer than three weeks
  • symptoms that make going about regular chores difficult difficult rectum hemorrhage or leaking on toilet paper
  • Your stools are bloody or dark.
  • Extra strange alterations to the stools’ shape or color
  • persistent stomach ache
  • Natural weight loss


Factors at risk

The following variables may make you more susceptible to persistent constipation:

  • Being a mature adult
  • Being a female
  • Engaging in little to no exercise
  • Possessing a mental illness, such as depression or eating disorder.
  • Prevention

The following advice will assist you in preventing constipation

  • Consume a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other high-fiber meals
  • Consume less low-fiber items, such as meats, dairy products, and processed foods
  • Make sure to stay hydrated
  • Continue to be active and work out frequently
  • Don’t resist the impulse to urinate
  • Establish a routine for removing waste, particularly after eating



The following are frequently asked questions related to constipation that you too many have. 


Can internal damage or other health issues result from constipation?

You may experience a few issues if you don’t have regular, gentle bowel motions. Among the difficulties are:

Hemorrhoids are enlarged, irritated veins in your rectum.

Anal fissures are tears in the lining of your anus caused by hardened stool attempting to pass through.

A disease called diverticulitis affects the pouches (diverticula) that occasionally grow off the wall of your colon due to stool that has become stuck and inflamed.

Much excrement accumulated in your rectum and anus (fecal impaction).

Straining to move your bowels can cause damage to your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles aid in bladder control, among other functions. Urine leakage from the bladder can result from prolonged and excessive exertion (stress urinary incontinence).


Is it possible for my body to accumulate toxins and become sick from constipation?

Usually, this isn’t the case. Your colon is an expandable receptacle for your waste, even though it may feel uncomfortable and hold on to stool longer when you’re constipated. Toxins can only seep into your body through the walls of your colon during a severe disease (toxic megacolon).


When should I visit my medical professional?

Speak with a medical professional if:

  • For you, constipation is a novel issue.
  • Blood is visible in your feces.
  • You’re inadvertently losing weight.
  • Your bowel movements are really painful for you.
  • You’ve experienced constipation for longer than three weeks.
  • You have symptoms of outlet dysfunction constipation.


What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  1. Why am I constipated?
  2. What can I take for immediate constipation relief?
  3. What home remedies for constipation do you recommend?
  4. What should I eat or drink to prevent constipation?
  5. How else can I prevent constipation?


How many bowel motions does someone need to experience constipation?

The quantity of bowel motions is not the sole indicator of constipation. Some of the patients who come to us with constipation have a bowel movement at least once a day, while others have no problems at all and only use the restroom every two or three days.  

Constipation is the subjective expression of a condition of discomfort; in certain people, it mostly shows itself as trouble passing gas, necessitating physical assistance, or the use of suppositories. Some people experience infrequent bowel movements, whilst others have regular bowel motions daily, but the feces are difficult or unpleasant to pass. A patient should see a doctor to get a diagnosis and the best course of action if they have one or more of these symptoms on a regular basis.