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Although it might not seem very serious, constipation can often signal underlying conditions which require prompt medical attention. The well-trained doctors and specialists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital can provide accurate and reliable diagnostic methods in order to discover the primary cause of constipation, as well as to offer efficient and individualized treatment options.
Constipation is a very common syndrome that affects people of all ages. A patient with constipation is not passing stools regularly and is unable to totally empty the bowel due to infrequent bowel movements (fewer than three per week). Stools may also be hard or lumpy and unusually big or small. Constipation can be a short-term condition, but many suffer from long-term constipation (several weeks or longer). Some acute cases pass without medical intervention, while others can require treatment for years.
Patients suffering from constipation should adopt diet and lifestyle changes. When those are not effective, medication or, in extreme cases, surgery is recommended.
Patients with constipation should be mindful of adopting healthy habits. Slowly increasing water and fiber intake (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) is recommended. Patients are also encouraged to exercise regularly, though exercise should always be performed under a doctor’s recommendation. The majority of patients suffering from constipation should be able to perform light exercise (e.g. a daily walk).
Constipation patients should keep a routine bathroom regimen and never rush.
When behavioral changes are not enough to reduce constipation symptoms, a doctor may prescribe laxatives. Some laxative medication varieties include:
In acute cases, laxatives are administrated until the stool is soft and the defecation occurs normally. In chronic cases, laxative administration might be necessary for months or years.
In rare cases (like strictures, anal fissures, blockage, or rectocele) surgical removal of part or all of the colon is necessary.
The patient should talk to the prescribing doctor about replacing any medication that causes constipation.
A lot of laxatives are safe to be taken during pregnancy, but some could be harmful. As such, a doctor’s recommendation is always necessary.
Increasing water intake may be the first way to treat constipation in babies. Leg exercises and abdominal massage may also be recommended.
Besides the behavioral changes listed above, parents should consider:
Constipation can occur occasionally, for a short period of time, as an acute condition.
Chronic constipation can be categorized as:
Constipation is defined by:
Other symptoms might include:
Chronic constipation is defined as experiencing some of the above symptoms for around three months.
Children might present additional symptoms, such as:
Visit your doctor immediately in any case of anal bleeding, which could signal the above complications, as well as other severe diseases, such as:
Constipation is a very common condition. No tests are needed; the diagnosis will be based on a patient's medical history and the symptoms discussed above. Additionally, a doctor will ask about the patient's habits and any recent changes in diet and exercise routines.
A constipation diagnosis is established by:
The doctor could also perform physical examination (especially of fecal impaction suspicion) by:
In case of severe symptoms, additional tests might be performed to detect any other conditions:
Other tests are often done to rule out bowel cancer in older adults and patients who have an increased risk.
Constipation occurs when the stool becomes dry and hard because it's moving too slowly through the large intestine, causing water to be absorbed in the colon, or because it can't be eliminated from the rectum.
Risk factors for constipation include:
Women who are pregnant often suffer from constipation.
Progesterone, which is produced during pregnancy, can cause muscle relaxation, resulting in constipation, especially during early pregnancy.
Children are very commonly affected by constipation.
Some of the reasons include:
Medications that often cause constipation include:
Constipation might be caused by a specific underlying condition, such as:
Alternative treatments for constipation are often used, though none have been studied enough to know their long-term results.
Probiotics might have a good effect on constipation. Some specific sugars found in fruits and vegetables are also rumored to help patients with constipation. Acupuncture has also been suggested as an alternative treatment option.
You can help prevent constipation by adopting some healthy habits:
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