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Constipation means that a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week. The stool can be hard and dry. Sometimes it is painful to pass. At one time or another, almost everyone gets constipated. In most cases, it lasts a short time and is not serious.

There are many things you can do to prevent constipation. They include

  • Eating more fruits, vegetables and grains, which are high in fiber
  • Drinking plenty of water and other liquids
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Taking time to have a bowel movement when you need to
  • Using laxatives only if your doctor says you should
  • Asking your doctor if medicines you take may cause constipation

It's not important that you have a bowel movement every day. If your bowel habits change, however, check with your doctor.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Constipation

The following features are indicative of Constipation:
  • few bowel movements
  • pain
  • cramping
  • swelling in the abdomen
  • appetite loss
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • inability to urinate
  • confusion
It is possible that Constipation shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

Common Causes of Constipation

The following are the most common causes of Constipation:
  • insufficient dietary fiber intake
  • inadequate fluid intake
  • lack of physical activity
  • hypothyroidism
  • obstruction by colorectal cancer

Risk Factors for Constipation

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Constipation:
  • not drinking enough water
  • low fiber diet intake
  • being woman
  • lack of physical activity
  • mental health conditions
  • older adults

Prevention of Constipation

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Constipation. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • adequate fluid intake
  • eating more fruits and vegetables
  • high-fiber diet intake
  • exercise regularly

Occurrence of Constipation

Degree of Occurrence

The following are the number of Constipation cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Constipation can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Constipation can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Constipation

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Constipation:
  • Blood test: To evaluate for certain conditions that can cause constipation
  • Sigmoidoscopy: To examine the rectum and the lower portion of your colon
  • Colonoscopy: To view the entire colon with a flexible, camera-equipped tube
  • Anorectal manometry: To measure the coordination of the muscles
  • Balloon expulsion test: To measures the amount of time it takes to push out a balloon that has been filled with water and placed in the rectum
  • Colonic transit study: To record the progress of the capsule through the colon
  • Defecography: To diagnose the problems with muscle function and muscle coordination
  • Magnetic resonance imaging defecography: To visualize and assess the function of the defecation muscles

Doctor for Diagnosis of Constipation

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Constipation:
  • Gastroenterologist
  • General practitioner

Complications of Constipation if Untreated

Yes, Constipation causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Constipation is left untreated:
  • bowel obstruction
  • may become life threatening
  • internal damage to the intestine or rectum
  • hemorrhoids
  • anal fissures
  • rectal prolapse
  • fecal impaction

Procedures for Treatment of Constipation

The following procedures are used to treat Constipation:
  • Surgery: To remove a part of colon
  • Biofeedback training: To pass stool more easily

Self-care for Constipation

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Constipation:
  • Increase fiber intake: Helps increasing the weight of stool and speeds its passage through intestines
  • Exercise most days of the week: Helps increasing muscle activity in intestine

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Constipation

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Constipation:
  • Use probiotic such as bifidobacterium: Helps in treating constipation
  • Acupuncture therapy: May be helpful in treating constipation

Patient Support for Treatment of Constipation

The following actions may help Constipation patients:
  • Education: Helps improving emotional functions
  • Psychosocial support: Help people with COPD and their carers better manage the condition

Is Constipation Infectious?

Yes, Constipation is known to be infectious.

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Last updated date

This page was last updated on 12/10/2018.
This page provides information for Constipation.

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