What is Constipation?
According to the National Institute of Digestive Diseases, constipation is one of the mostcommon gastrointestinal problems and it affects about 42 million people in the United States. Most people’s bowel movements vary both in the number and form of bowel movements you have on a daily basis. By definition, constipation is when you go more than 3 days without a bowel movement or your stools are excessively hard and cause discomfort.
Constipation - When do I need to see a Doctor in Plano TX?
The patient’s medical history is the most important factor in diagnosing constipation. The physician will perform a physical exam and sometimes obtain certain blood tests. A barium or gastrograffin x-ray exam of the lower bowel or colonoscopy often is warranted. Additional testing may include a Sitz marker whereby the patient swallows a capsule containing markers and some days later an x-ray is taken to analyze the pattern and distribution of markers in the colon. In some cases, defecography or anorectal manometry where pressure measurements of the rectum are performed may be suggested
What Causes Constipation?
The cause of constipation is clinically described as the stool spending too much time in the colon. The colon’s job is to absorb water and the longer the stool stays in the colon the firmer it gets and can become more difficult to pass or evacuate. Most of the time the reason the stool is spending too much time in the colon is related to lifestyle and diet. However it is often important to make sure there is nothing blocking the colon like a colon mass or cancer especially if there are any alarm symptoms such as rectal bleeding, blood in stool, anemia (low red blood cell count)
There are several other possible contributing factors to constipation:
- Inadequate water intake
- Inadequate fiber in the diet
- Lack of exercise
- Resisting the urge of a bowel movement
- Colon cancer
- Functional GI disorders (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome)
- Endocrine Problems like hypothyroididm
- Neurologic and Metabolic disorders
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
- Slow GI Motility
Constipation - How do I get Relief in Plano TX?
If you are constipated, try the following to get relief and return to a symptom-free life:
- Eat 25-30 grams of fiber a day
- Drink 6-8 good-sized glasses of a nonalcoholic non-caffeinated liquid a day
- Add or increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
- If needed, use a mild stool softener or laxative
- Exercise regularly
Because there are many causes of constipation, treatment depends on the physician’s findings and diagnosis. After serious problems are excluded, chronic constipation usually responds to simple measures, such as adding fiber, bran or a bulking agent to the diet.