Constipation

Constipation is an embarrassing problem that many patients do not like to discuss with anyone, especially a doctor. Nevertheless, talking to Dr. Gandhi of Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology in Illinois is the first step to finding relief with an effective solution.

Constipation is a condition in which a patient is having difficulty with bowel movements or they are unable to have regular bowel movements. Though the number of bowel movements per week varies from patient to patient, it is unhealthy for an individual to go three days or longer without defecating. The longer the time between bowel movements, the more likely the stool will become harder and much more difficult-and painful-to pass.

Chronic constipation is defined as patients who have two or less bowel movements a week over the course of three months. Patients who experience incomplete evacuation, hard stools, and straining during their bowel movement regularly over this time period can find relief with effective treatment.

Determining the right treatment for constipation is based upon the severity of the condition and the cause. There are many reasons a patient may be constipated, and include:
  • Not enough water or fiber in the diet
  • Change in daily routine or diet
  • Not enough exercise or mobility
  • Too much dairy
  • Stress and depression
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Colon cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Stool softener abuse
  • Antacids and other medications
  • Eating disorders
  • Neurological conditions
In most cases, constipation can be addressed with behavioral and lifestyle changes. Patients are encouraged to drink plenty of water every day, and add fruits and vegetables to their diet. Prunes and bran cereal can be consumed to increase fiber in the diet. Laxatives can be used short-term to help pass feces, but should not be used longer than two weeks without doctor recommendation.

There are times in which patients should seek immediate help in regards to constipation and bowel control issues. Patients who are experiencing blood in the stools, losing weight without dieting, have constipation lasting more than two weeks, and who are experiencing severe pain during their bowel movements should contact their doctor as soon as possible or visit an emergency room for evaluation.