WHAT IS A NORMAL BOWEL MOVEMENT?
Each person has different bowel habits. You may have a bowel movement three times a day, three times a week, or anywhere between the two. If your habits are consistent, then that’s normal for you.
While you don’t need to have a bowel movement every day, a stool that stays in the intestine too long tends to harden and cause constipation.
WHAT SYMPTOMS DEVELOP IF I HAVE CONSTIPATION?
The most common symptom of constipation is having a hard time passing a stool. You may also have symptoms such as:
- Having fewer than three bowel movements weekly
- Passing hard stools or small lumps
- Finding it painful to pass a stool
- Straining to have a bowel movement
- Feeling like all the stool wasn’t expelled
- Feeling like your rectum is blocked
You may also find that stool seems to get stuck as it leaves your body.
WHAT CAUSES CONSTIPATION?
Constipation occurs when a stool passes through your large intestine too slowly. This problem can develop due to health problems affecting your rectum and colon, such as rectocele, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
You’re also more likely to become constipated if you have any of the following:
- Low-fiber diet
- Bowel obstruction
- Muscle dysfunction
- Nerve damage
- Thyroid disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Certain medications
Any condition that narrows the intestine, such as tumors, polyps, scar tissue, and inflammation may also result in constipation.
WHEN SHOULD I SEE A DOCTOR FOR CONSTIPATION?
If your constipation lasts longer than three days, we recommend a visit to our office. If you experience any of the following, please seek medical care:
- Bleeding from your rectum
- Blood in your stool
- Constant abdominal pain
- Inability to pass gas
- Lower back pain
HOW DO YOU DIAGNOSE CONSTIPATION?
Your symptoms are usually enough to diagnose constipation. However, determining exactly what caused your constipation may require more digging with testing such as:
- Blood tests
- Evaluation of muscle function
HOW DO YOU TREAT CONSTIPATION?
Your doctor customizes your treatment depending on the severity of your symptoms and the cause of your constipation. While there are many possible treatments for the potential causes, these therapies are used to improve your constipation:
- Dietary changes
- Fiber supplements
- Stool softeners
- Osmotic agents
- Bowel training