Constipation is a chronic condition that prevents a patient’s ability to have regular bowel movements. The condition is generally associated with having three bowel movements or less in one week.
Everyone experiences constipation on occasion, but the condition can last for several weeks or longer in some patients. Symptoms of chronic constipation include:
- Defecating less than three times in one week
- Passing firm stools
- Unusual lumps in the stool
- Difficulting expelling waste
- Sensations of a blockage in the rectum
- Feeling that the bowel movement is incomplete
- Not being able to push hard enough to expel waste
Constipation is usually caused by an underlying condition, and there are several conditions that affect a patient’s ability to easily pass a bowel movement. Dehydration can prevent the body from allowing enough water to soften the stool, and can make the stool hard and lumpy. Pregnancy, diabetes, hormone imbalance, and cancers are all conditions that result in frequent constipation.
Depending on the source of the constipation, doctors will need to run a series of tests to properly diagnose the condition that is causing the chronic constipation. In some cases, the patient may need to pass a contrast gel that has been inserted into the rectum while X-rays and MRI machines take pictures. This will help doctors distinguish if there are problems with the muscles used to defecate, or if there is an injury to the lower abdomen.
Different treatments exist to treat the symptoms of constipation. Dietary adjustments are usually effective at reducing pain and softening the stool. An increase in fiber and water intake will help the stool move through the bowels, and exercise will help the body be more regular. The Valley Stream gastroenterologists at GastroCare LI can help you understand and treat your issues with constipation, and learn more ways to reduce the side-effects. Call us at (516) 265-7049 for more information.