Constipation is a common condition that means you are not regularly passing stool or are not able to empty your bowels. It can affect people of all ages.
Although occasional constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation that can interfere with their ability to perform their daily tasks.
Causes and Risk Factors
The most frequent cause of constipation today are the dietary factors, especially the lack of fiber in the diet. Other times, constipation is related to different diseases that the person suffers and is a frequent symptom in patients with diabetes and thyroid diseases.
Sedentary lifestyle or immobility; lousy hydration or unbalanced diets (with excess fats and proteins and lack of fiber and vegetables); poly medication without a medical prescription (analgesics, tranquillizers, chronic use of laxatives), overweight and obesity are some of the risk factors of constipation.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include the following:
- Having lumpy or hard stools
- Make a great effort to have bowel movements
- Feeling as if there is a blockage in the rectum that prevents bowel movements
- Feel like you cannot empty the rectum
- Need help to drain the rectum, such as using your hands to press your abdomen and use a finger to remove stool from the rectum
Constipation can be considered chronic if you have had two or more of these symptoms during the last three months.
When to consult with the doctor?
Ask for a consultation with your doctor if you notice persistent changes and no apparent cause in your bowel habits.
Treatment and Management
The treatment for chronic constipation usually begins with changes in diet and lifestyle that aim to speed up the transit of stool through the intestines. If these changes are not effective, the doctor may recommend medication or surgery.
There are several types of laxatives. Each one acts differently to facilitate intestinal evacuation.
- Other medications
Over the counter medicines are not functional in treating chronic constipation. Ask your doctor to prescribe medicines for irritable bowel syndrome.
- Pelvic muscle training
Bioregulation training involves working together with a therapist who uses devices to help you learn to relax and contract the pelvic muscles. Relaxing the pelvic floor muscles at the right time during defecation can help you expel stool more easily.