Constipation is a condition where you have uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. It is one of the most common digestive problems in the United States. Anchorage constipation involves hard, dry bowel movements or passing stool fewer than three times per week.
However, how often you empty your stool varies among different persons. Some people have bowel movements several times a day while others one or two times a week. As long as your bowel pattern is regular, that is not constipation. If you stray too long from your routine, seek medical attention.
There are many causes of constipation, and they include:
Lifestyle habits: Eating low-fiber foods, insufficient water, stress, taking large amounts of milk or cheese, and insufficient exercise can lead to constipation. Resting your urge to have a bowel movement and changes in your routine like traveling or going to bed at a different time can also cause constipation.
Medications: Some medications can cause constipation, like narcotics containing codeine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen and antidepressants such as fluoxetine and tricyclic can also lead to constipation.
Medical health conditions: Diseases like colorectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, intestinal obstruction, and pregnancy can lead to constipation. Some endocrine problems, neurological disorders, structural defects in your digestive tract, and multiple organ diseases can also cause constipation.
Depending on your symptoms, medical history, and overall health, your doctor recommends no tests or various tests and procedures such as:
Lab tests: Blood and urine tests detect hypothyroidism, anemia, and diabetes. A stool sample reveals infection, inflammation, and cancer signs.
Imaging tests: Your doctor can order computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, or lower gastrointestinal tract problems to identify other issues causing your constipation.
Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy, also known as a sigmoidoscopy, involves internal viewing of your colon using a scope. During this process, your specialist can take a small tissue sample to test for cancer or other issues, and your surgeon will remove any found polyps.
Colorectal transit studies: These tests involve taking a small dose of a radioactive substance in pill form or your meal. Your doctor will track the amount of time and how the material moves through your intestine.
Bowel function test: Your specialist may recommend a test to check how well your anus and rectum hold and release stool. An x-ray called defecography rules out the causes of outlet dysfunction.
Your doctor’s treatment method depends on the symptoms and the cause of your constipation. These treatment options include:
Medication: The commonly used drugs to treat constipation include lubiprostone, plecanatide, lactulose, and linaclotide.
Self-care: Drinking two to four glasses of water in a day and avoiding drinks that can cause dehydration, like caffeine and alcohol, can help reduce mild and moderate constipation. Regular exercise and taking foods rich in fiber can also improve constipation symptoms.
Surgery: Although rare, your doctor can recommend surgery if your constipation results from a structural problem in your colon.
Drinking enough water, eating foods with high fiber, regular exercises, and moving your bowels when you feel an urge can help prevent constipation. Schedule an appointment at Pioneer GI Clinic for constipation treatment to resume your regular bowel movement pattern.