Chronic constipation is difficulty passing stools or infrequent bowel movements (fewer than 3 per week.) When waste or stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract or cannot be eliminated effectively from the rectum, the stool becomes hard, dry, and difficult to expel.
While most people experience occasional constipation, chronic constipation can leave you feeling bloated, while passing a bowel movement requires excessive strain.
SYMPTOMS OF CONSTIPATION
Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include:
- Passing fewer than three stools a week
- Having lumpy or hard stools
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
- Feeling as though you can’t completely empty the stool from your rectum
- Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum
If you’ve experienced two or more of these symptoms for the last three months, your constipation may be considered chronic.
The likelihood of chronic constipation increases if you:
- Are an older adult
- Are female
- Are dehydrated
- Consume a low fiber diet
- Are sedentary
- Take certain medications
- Have mental health conditions such as depression or eating disorders
WHY SEE YOUR DOCTOR FOR CHRONIC CONSTIPATION
Chronic constipation may also have serious underlying causes that your doctor can treat:
- Blockages in the colon or rectum that slow or stop the movement of stools such as all obstructions, anal fissures, colorectal and other cancers, and more
- Problems with the nerves around the colon and rectum so that they do not properly contract to move the stool through the intestines
- Weakened pelvic muscles that do not relax or coordinate to expel waste
- Hormonal conditions, such as diabetes, pregnancy, underactive thyroid, or overactive parathyroid gland
The discomfort of chronic constipation may be worsened by swollen veins (hemorrhoids), anal fissures, fecal impaction when you can’t expel stools, or a rectal prolapse when your intestine stretches and protrudes from the anus.
You can lessen the chance of chronic constipation through lifestyle changes:
- Replace low fiber foods (processed foods, and dairy and meat products) with high-fiber foods (beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, and bran.)
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Stay physically active
- Try to have bowel movements at regular times and don’t ignore nature’s call to have a bowl movement
- Manage your stress
SCHEDULE CONSTANT CONSTIPATION CARE AT OASIS ADVANCED GASONTEROLOGY
Your doctor can offer relief from chronic constipation, Contact Oasis Advanced Gastroenterology in Palm Springs to schedule constipation care with Dr. Asgeri.
Request an appointment online or call 760-699-7607.