When you’re constipated, it means you have bowel movements that are hard and happen less often. It’s typically diagnosed when you have less than three bowel movements in a week.
Constipation is incredibly common. In fact, more than 2.5 million people living in the United States seek medical attention for this gastrointestinal affliction each year. Many times, it’s short-lived and goes away on its own with simple at-home remedies.
However, in some cases, constipation can point to a more serious underlying health issue. So, if you’re chronically constipated, it’s important to seek treatment.
At GI Physicians, Inc. in Lima, Ohio, our team, led by Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, understands it can be uncomfortable talking to your doctor about constipation, but we offer compassionate care that can get to the bottom of your infrequent bowel movements.
In this blog, we explore why seeking treatment for long-lasting constipation is so important.
The basics of constipation
Your colon’s primary job is to absorb water from residual food that passes through your digestive system and then create stool, or waste. Your colon muscles then project that waste through your rectum to be eliminated. But, if the waste stays in your colon too long, it becomes hard and very difficult to pass.
A diet lacking in fiber and poor water intake are two primary causes of constipation. Fiber and water add weight and size to your stool while also softening it, making it much easier to eliminate from your body.
Other common causes of constipation include stress, change in routine, limited physical activity, delaying your urge to have a bowel movement, and certain medications such as diuretics or pain medications.
How to treat constipation at home
For occasional, short-term constipation, there are some gentle remedies you can try at home:
- Drink two quarts of hydrating liquids such as water every day
- Avoid dehydrating beverages such as alcohol or caffeinated drinks
- Increase your fiber intake to 30 grams per day
- Exercise for at least 150 minutes every week
- Never delay your bowel movements
- Try putting your feet on a stool to raise your knees during bowel movements
In addition, check to see if any medications you’re taking could be causing your constipation.
What might chronic constipation mean?
If at-home remedies don’t relieve your constipation or it keeps recurring, there could be another health issue causing it. In addition, you should always seek medical attention if your constipation is accompanied by blood in your stool, inability to pass gas, vomiting, or severe abdominal pain.
Chronic constipation can be caused by gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal obstruction, colorectal cancer, or diverticulosis. It can also be the result of a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, or diverticulitis.
Other health conditions that can lead to long-lasting constipation include diabetes, hypothyroidism, and lupus. Because chronic constipation can point to so many different serious health issues, it’s important to have it checked out to get to the bottom of what’s causing it.
For expert gastrointestinal care, look no further than our team at GI Physicians, Inc. Schedule an appointment by giving us a call or booking online today.