A change in bowel habits might not seem like a big deal, but it can be something worth keeping track of and bringing up to your doctor. Chronic constipation affects many, and while some cases may be able to be fixed at home, other more serious cases may require medical attention. 

What Is Constipation?

Constipation occurs when your body has difficulty passing regular bowel movements—either they’re infrequent or you have to strain in order to relieve yourself. You are considered constipated if you have fewer than three bowel movements a week, and severely constipated if bowel movements occur less than once a week. If this has been persisting for more than three weeks, which is considered chronic, it might be time to call Carolina Digestive Health Associates.

What Causes Constipation?

Constipation can be caused by many things and is generally not considered a health issue on it’s own, but more as a symptom of something else. It generally occurs when digested food spends too much time in your colon. While the food is in your colon, your body absorbs water from it and the constipation occurs when too much water is absorbed, making your stool hard and dry and difficult to pass. In most cases, you can make small tweaks to your diet and lifestyle that can improve your bowel movements. Consider adding fiber to your diet in the form of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Drink more water, exercise, go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge, and talk to your doctor about any medications you may be taking that could be exacerbating the issue. There are certain medical conditions that could also bring on constipation. These include GI tract issues, IBS, or conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, diabetes, thyroid disease, or lupus.

Should I See My Doctor About My Constipation?

If your constipation has become chronic, it’s time to come in for a visit. Most exams will begin with a series of questions about your diet, lifestyle, medications you may be taking, and your history of constipation. Your doctor may also perform a physical exam, especially if your constipation is accompanied with stomach pain, unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool, or if it’s a new issue you’re dealing with. Depending on your history and your specific case, a doctor might perform a physical exam of the anus. Other diagnostic tests might include a barium enema x-ray, a colonoscopy, or a sigmoidoscopy.

Don’t let your chronic constipation get you down any longer. Make an appointment at Carolina Digestive Health Associates so we can help determine the cause—and remedy—for your constipation.