What Is Constipation, and What Can You Do About It?

What Is Constipation, and What Can You Do About It?

Everybody has a different elimination schedule. Some people poop daily or more than once a day, while others may go every few days. You’re considered constipated if you have a bowel movement three or fewer times per week. 

An illness, dietary changes, or certain medications can cause temporary constipation. And though it’s not pleasant, a one-off bout of constipation is really nothing to worry about. But, when constipation persists for weeks or months, it causes side effects that interfere with your quality of life and possibly your health. 

Our board-certified gastroenterologist Bharat Pothuri, MD at GastroDoxs helps patients in the greater Houston area who are suffering from chronic constipation. Contact our Cypress, Texas, office if you need help. Dr. Pothuri also recommends that you try these remedies to find relief.

All about constipation

The most common digestive complaint in the United States, constipation means you have infrequent bowel movements. But, it also describes other unpleasant eliminating experiences like difficulty passing stool, having hard, lumpy stools, and straining to have bowel movements. 

Constipation can also be characterized by the sensation that you can’t completely empty stool from your rectum. You may feel like there’s something blocking your bowel movements and may even resort to using a finger to clear your rectum. Pressing on your abdomen is another way you might try to release stool when you're constipated. 

It’s not normal to live with these symptoms for more than a few days. 

Complications of constipation

Chronic, persistent constipation can make you prone to hemorrhoids. These swollen veins in your anus make passing your scant bowel movements all the more painful, and can cause bleeding and pain when you sit. 

The straining and bowel pressure of constipation can also result in anal fissures. Anal fissures are torn, inflamed, irritated tissue that causes pain and rectal bleeding when you do eliminate. 

Constipation can also cause fecal impaction. Hardened stool sticks in your intestines, causing severe illness and even death. 

Untreated, chronic constipation may lead to rectal prolapse. In this condition your rectum stretches out so much it protrudes from the anus. Not only is rectal prolapse uncomfortable and bothersome, it can cause rectal bleeding and make it hard for you to control the bowel movements you do have. 

What can be done about constipation

In many cases, chronic constipation is due to habits that are easily revised. Dr. Pothuri recommends including more fiber in your diet. Find this important carbohydrate in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. He can also recommend an over-the-counter fiber supplement if you can’t seem to get enough from your diet. 

Drink plenty of water, too. Staying hydrated makes it easier for stool to pass through your system. Exercise increases intestine strength and promotes the ability of stool to move along your digestive tract. You should do something physical, even just a walk after dinner, for about 30 minutes every day. 

Stick to a schedule, too. Don’t hold stool in when you have the urge to go. Chronically repressing the need to poop can lead to chronic constipation.

We can help with medical interventions if at-home habit changes don’t help relieve your constipation. Prescription laxatives, bowel retraining, and even surgery (in extreme cases) helps provide relief. 

If you’re struggling with constipation and can’t seem to get relief, call GastroDoxs. We can help you find more ease in eliminating and treat any complications. Call the office today or use the online tool to schedule an appointment.

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