What is Constipation?
Constipation describes bowel movements that occur less often than normal. It is very common and can affect people of all ages. However, some people may be more likely to experience regular constipation, including older people, women, those who lack fiber in their diets or those who take certain medications.
Symptoms of constipation include:
- Difficulty having a bowel movement.
- Painful bowel movements.
- Few bowel movements.
- Small or hard stools.
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation occurs when the colon has absorbed too much water from stool. This makes stools dry and hard, which are difficult to expel from the body. Lifestyle choices such as eating foods low in fiber or not drinking enough water, medical conditions such as IBS or IBD, medications like strong pain medications or iron pills and pregnancy can all cause constipation to occur.
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How is Constipation Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing symptoms of constipation, do not hesitate to speak with your GI doctor. Our team of physicians and providers are highly knowledgeable regarding constipation and its causes, so you can be sure we will be understanding. It is important to share what you are experiencing, as well as how long you have had your symptoms so that your doctor can choose the best plan of action for your case.
Depending on your symptoms, medical history and overall health, your physician may order some tests or procedures to best understand your constipation. These may include lab tests, imaging tests, a colonoscopy or bowel function tests.
Patients should schedule a visit with our team right away if constipation has lasted more than three weeks, if bowel movements are painful, if stools are bloody or if unintentional weight loss is experienced.
Constipation Treatment Options
There are many different options for addressing constipation. Your doctor may recommend the following:
For mild cases of constipation, self-care is often effective in relieving symptoms. Your doctor may recommend drinking 2-4 more glasses of water a day while avoiding caffeine, as well as adding veggies, fruits and other high-fiber food to your diet. Regular exercise can also be beneficial. If needed, over-the-counter- stool softeners of laxatives can help soften your stool, making it easier to have a bowel movement.
If at-home care has not relieved your constipation, your doctor may prescribe a medication for constipation. These may include Amitiza®, Prudac®, Trulance®, Cephuliac® or Linzess®, among many more.
In rare instances, surgery can be used to address a structural problem caused by constipation, such as an intestinal obstruction.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Constipation or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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