Constipation is an uncomfortable condition that is categorized by difficulty passing or the inability to pass stools. It can develop for a variety of reasons, and oftentimes it’s helpful to connect with a gastrointestinal specialist in order to pinpoint the underlying cause of constipation and the best ways to manage it. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the common causes and treatment options for constipation.
Constipation Causes And Symptoms
As we mentioned above, constipation can develop for a number of reasons, but oftentimes it sets in as a result of a dietary issue. That can be something as simple as a significant change in your diet or regular eating habits, or it could be caused by the types of foods you’re eating, especially if you’re not getting enough fiber. Eating too much of certain foods, like cheese or red meat, can also cause constipation.
Your diet isn’t the only reason for constipation onset. Other common contributing factors to constipation include dehydration, side effects of medication, living a sedentary lifestyle, having unmanaged stress and pregnancy.
The reason you become constipated is because your colon ends up absorbing too much water from your stool, which dries it out and makes it harder for it to be expelled from the body. If you’re regularly constipated, food may be moving too slowly through your digestive tract, meaning your colon has more time to remove water from the waste, drying everything out.
Aside from difficulty passing stool, symptoms of constipation include:
- Dry stools
- Stomach discomfort or cramping
- Feeling like you haven’t emptied your bowels after a movement
Diagnosing And Treating Constipation
If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms listed above or believe you may be constipated, you can try to manage symptoms on your own and see how they respond before reaching out to a specialist unless you are extremely uncomfortable or believe you may be dealing with a medical emergency. Some simple lifestyle adjustments like exercising more, reaching for more soluble and insoluble fiber options and drinking plenty of water can oftentimes help resolve your constipation issues.
If those techniques aren’t effective, or you are dealing with constipation on a more frequent basis, it may be time to connect with a gastrointestinal specialist like Dr. Bhatti. He’ll begin by asking about your symptoms, your bowel movements and other lifestyle factors that may be contributing to the condition. Your specialist will also likely ask about your typical diet choices to get a better understanding of the role your diet may play in the equation. Additional testing isn’t typically required unless your doctor wants to look for specific issues, like a thyroid problem or inflammatory bowel disorder.
Treatment will begin with many of the tips listed above, like getting regular exercise, improving your diet and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Other treatments that may be recommended on a case-by-case basis include changing medications if your current regimen is believed to be contributing to your constipation, avoiding caffeine, improving your posture while you’re going to the bathroom or taking dietary supplements. Surgery to address the constipation or blockage is very rare, and is typically only considered if it is being caused by a structural problem in the colon.
So if you are dealing with constipation, stomach cramping or you’re just finding it hard to comfortably pass stool, try some of the treatments listed above or reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today.