What is chronic constipation?

What are the symptoms of chronic constipation?

The symptoms include having less than three bowel movements a week. You may also have straining or hard, painful stools. Some people also have bleeding from hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Or you may feel that you don't completely empty your bowels.

How is chronic constipation treated?

There are many ways to treat chronic constipation, depending on what's causing it. You may try different things like fiber, drinking more water, or eating foods that have a laxative effect. Stool softeners, laxatives, or other medicines may also work. Other treatments, such as biofeedback, may be helpful.

What is chronic constipation?

Constipation may come and go and can cause pain and discomfort. But when it happens for weeks, months, or years, you may have chronic constipation. Chronic constipation can affect the quality of your life. But you can work with your doctor to learn how to manage it with different treatments.

What causes chronic constipation?

Some people have trouble with constipation for weeks, months, or years. Or it may come and go over long periods of time.

If you have chronic constipation, see your doctor. Your doctor can make sure it is not caused by a disease. If your doctor does not find another health problem, the cause is often related to two problems with your colon. It may be because your colon doesn't move stool along well. Or, once the stool gets to the rectum, you can't pass it out of your body easily. And those problems can be caused by:

  • Diet, especially if you do not include enough fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet each day.
  • Not getting enough activity.
  • Not drinking enough fluids. Or drinking too much coffee or alcohol, which can act like diuretics.
  • Medicines, such as antidepressants, water pills (diuretics), iron, and pain medicines.
  • Changes in your daily routines from travel or changes in your school or job. This can decrease your activity level. It can also change how often you have time to have a bowel movement.
  • Getting older.
  • Having another health problem that may affect how well your bowels move.
  • Stress.
  • A history of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
  • Problems relaxing the anus or pelvic floor muscles.

Sometimes, no cause is found. In that case, your doctor may diagnose you with a type of irritable bowel syndrome.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.