If you have three or fewer bowel movements in a week, you are likely constipated. With constipation, your stool can be hard and dry, cause excessive straining and is sometimes painful to pass. Constipation typically lasts a short time and is not considered a serious condition. On the other hand, being chronically constipated can interfere with a healthy lifestyle.
Symptoms of constipation may include:
- Difficult and painful bowel movements
- Feeling as though there's a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
- Feeling as though you can't empty the stool from your rectum
- Feeling swollen (bloated)
- Less than three bowel movements a week
- Lumpy or hard stools
- Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen
- Not having much energy
- Unsuccessful straining to move your bowels
You may have chronic constipation, if you've experienced two or more of these symptoms for the last three months.
Your GI doctor may order a blood test to check for other conditions that may be causing constipation.
Sigmoidoscopy or Colonoscopy
In this test, your GI doctor closely examines your rectum and colon for blockages or other problems.
This test evaluates anal sphincter muscle function.
Balloon Expulsion Test
This test evaluates anal sphincter muscle speed.
Colonic Transit Study
This test evaluates how well food moves through your colon.
This is an X-ray of your rectum during defecation.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Defecography
An MRI is used to assess the function of the defecation muscles and diagnose problems that can cause constipation.
Your gastrointestinal (GI) doctor will likely recommend that you make changes to your daily routine, including making sure you consume plenty of fiber, water, and liquids. You should also get regular exercise. You should try to have a bowel movement at the same time each day and when you get the urge to have a bowel movement, be sure to do it.
Laxatives or Fiber Supplements
Your GI doctor may recommend you take a laxative, as needed, or take regular fiber supplements to try to get your bowels to move more regularly.
A lubricant applied in and around the anus can help make bowel movements easier and less painful.
You may need to take an oral (by mouth) stool softener to make bowel movements easier.
Enemas and Suppositories
Inserting an enema or suppository inside the anus may help you have a bowel movement.
You may want to try biofeedback training, which involves training your pelvic muscles to encourage your bowels to move more regularly.
In severe cases – especially when there is a blockage – your GI doctor may recommend you undergo surgery to address your chronic constipation.
Why Choose UHealth?
Motility lab for accurate diagnosis of GI conditions. The only facility of its kind in South Florida, our motility lab enables our GI specialists to provide accurate diagnoses of GI conditions more quickly and efficiently. We offer a variety of leading-edge services, such as hydrogen breath testing, anal-rectal manometry, and bio-feedback.
A broad array of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Regardless of your age, condition, or whether you need long- or short-term digestive treatments, you will receive the most accurate diagnosis and most effective treatment to keep your stomach, digestive system, and organs healthy.
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