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3 Reasons You May Have Chronic Constipation

3 Reasons You May Have Chronic Constipation

If you struggle with constipation for three months or longer, it’s considered chronic. As a board-certified gastroenterologist, Dr. Bharat Pothuri of GastroDoxs treats patients to help them improve this frustrating, uncomfortable, and, sometimes, painful condition.

Getting treatment for your constipation starts with determining why you’re having problems in the first place. Here are three causes of the condition and what Dr. Pothuri recommends you do to get relief.

About chronic constipation

Generally, constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. 

Approximately 16 out of 100 adults struggle with constipation, and the instances increase as you get older, with 33 out of 100 adults age 60 and older suffering from infrequent bowel movements.

Other signs of chronic constipation include:

Some people with constipation need help to empty their rectum. You might need to press on your abdomen or even use a finger to remove stool. 

When you experience two or more of these symptoms for three months or longer, constipation is chronic. 

Three major causes of constipation

Oftentimes a person’s habits, like a diet low in fiber and a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to constipation. Hormonal changes — including hyperparathyroidism, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and pregnancy — can also upset the balance of fluids in your body and make it difficult to have regular bowel movements. 

Certain medications prescribed for pain, including opioids, can also cause constipation.

Three major medical causes of constipation include blockages, nerve problems, and muscle complications.

1. Blockages

You may have a blockage in your colon or rectum caused by an anal fissure, bowel obstruction, or colon cancer. Rectal cancer and other abdominal cancers can also restrict space for stool to move. 

2. Nerve problems

If you have a neurological problem or disease, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, or a spinal cord injury, it can interfere with the nerve action that communicates with the muscles in the colon. These muscles tell the rectum to contract and move stool. 

3. Muscle complications

Weakened pelvic muscles make it hard for you to release stool effectively. As you get older, muscle strength and function diminishes in many parts of your body – including your rectum and colon. 

Some people also have a condition known as anismus, which describes the inability to relax the pelvic muscles to have a bowel movement. Other people have a condition known as dyssynergia in which the pelvic muscles don’t coordinate their contraction and relaxation properly. 

Treatment for chronic constipation

Treatment for chronic constipation depends on the cause. When appropriate, lifestyle changes can help alleviate much of the problem. Dr. Pothuri may recommend increasing your fiber intake through vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, exercising regularly, and honoring your body’s need to go to the restroom — don’t hold it in.

Laxatives can also help get things moving. These may come in the form of fiber supplements, stimulants, lubricants, stool softeners, or osmotics, which increase fluid secretion to make stool more slippery. 

Dr. Pothuri may also recommend other types of medications to help you have more regular bowel movements, especially if you have a medical condition causing constipation. 

Pelvic floor muscle training can help if you have muscle dysfunction that’s causing your constipation. The training helps you learn how to relax your pelvic floor muscles. 

In rare cases, surgery may be needed to remove a blockage or stricture that’s preventing evacuation of stool. 

Constipation is not something to “just live with” or tolerate. Reach out to GastroDoxs today to be evaluated. We can help with recommendations and treatments to ease your constipation. Use this website to book an appointment online or call our office in Houston, Texas.

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