Most of us have been constipated at some point during our lives. It’s inconvenient, but at least it doesn’t happen often.
For some people, though, constipation is a regular part of their lives. These women and men have, on average, three or fewer bowel movements per week, leaving them feeling bloated, crampy, and uncomfortable.
At first glance, constipation might not seem like a big deal, but if you put off treating constipation, you can wind up with some serious medical problems.
At GI Physicians Inc., Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, offers advanced constipation treatment at his practice in Lima, Ohio, helping patients overcome symptoms and prevent them from recurring. If you have chronic or recurrent constipation, here’s a quick overview of some of the complications that can occur.
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels inside your rectum or around your anal opening. Painful and itchy, hemorrhoids often develop as a result of straining to move your bowels — a common side effect of constipation.
Anal fissures are another common consequence of straining. These tiny cuts cause considerable pain and bleeding, and without treatment, you may develop an infection. Some tears can widen, requiring surgery to fix.
Another straining-related problem, rectal prolapse happens when the rectum becomes distended and protrudes from the anus. In addition to discomfort and bleeding, prolapse can interfere with normal bowel function, sometimes requiring surgery to correct.
Fecal impaction happens when hard, dry stool “backs up” and collects inside your lower intestine or your rectum. The hard mass becomes “stuck,” preventing it from passing.
Over time, an impaction can lead to severe belly pain, vomiting, and fever. In severe cases, untreated impaction can cause a bowel perforation or tear, leaving you at risk of a deadly sepsis infection.
Fecal impaction is one cause of bowel obstruction, but there are other causes, too. A buildup of fibrous scar tissue from prior surgery, injury, or bowel disease can create an obstruction, blocking bowel function and leading to serious, life-threatening consequences.
Colon cancer can also cause an obstruction when tumors grow large enough to prevent stool from moving. In fact, screening for colon cancer is one important reason why chronic constipation should never be ignored.
Many people think of the bowels as waste repositories, but they also play a major role in digestion. Nutrients and fluids are absorbed through the bowel, and if you’re chronically constipated, it could interfere with that absorption, leaving you depleted of important nutrients. Over time, these deficiencies can lead to other medical issues, including problems affecting other organs.
Because constipation is relatively common, it can be tempting to ignore it. However, chronic constipation isn’t normal and should never be overlooked. In fact, paying attention to your bowel habits is one of the best ways to identify potential problems early, so those problems can be treated.
If you have chronic constipation or other changes in your bowel habits, make treatment a priority. Call 419-228-2600, or book an appointment online at GI Physicians today.