Chronic constipation does not have to become a way of life. A highly-trained specialist can help and effective treatments are available.
It’s true that nearly everyone is constipated from time to time. After all, constipation is the most common digestive complaint in the United States. But chronic constipation does not have to become a way of life. A highly-trained specialist can help.
“As a gastroenterologist, constipation is a problem that I see and treat every day. People should know that highly-effective treatments are available,” says Lauren Halvorson, MD of Capital Digestive Care’s Columbia office. Doctors recommend that patients who are frequently constipated have a thorough exam and consultation with a physician. During this visit, a physician may recommend further examination to get to the root of the problem.
The treatments for constipation vary depending on what is causing it, how bad the problem is, and how long the person has been constipated. “Begin by increasing your fiber intake, drinking plenty of water and staying active. However if constipation is a new problem for you or if you have other worrisome symptoms, like rectal bleeding or weight loss, it’s time to see a specialist,” says Dr. Halvorson. More aggressive treatments might include over the counter medicines, prescriptive medications, biofeedback or even surgery if there is a blockage.
Let’s take a closer look at what chronic constipation is. Dr. Halvorson defines it as
- Fewer than 3 bowel movements per week
- Lumpy or hard stools
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Straining during more than 25% of bowel movements
She says patients should take note of these important causes:
- Side effect of medication
- Dietary factors
- Metabolic disorders, like diabetes and hypothyroidism
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
“Chronic constipation isn’t something you should ‘just get used to.’ It can not only cause abdominal discomfort, bloating, and hemorrhoids, but it can affect your quality of life,” says Dr. Halvorson. If chronic constipation is a problem for you, make an appointment with a trained gastroenterologist for comprehensive treatment.