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Chronic Constipation: Complications to Avoid

Constipation stops everything.

Nobody enjoys being constipated, but sometimes it happens due to stress, dietary changes, surgery, or medications. When constipation lingers for several weeks, however, it can cause side effects that can seriously interfere with your quality of life.

At Digestive Disorders Associates, we help you establish lifestyle habits that prevent constipation or reduce its episodes. If you have chronic constipation, we can also help you with medical interventions that include prescription medications, physical therapy, and even surgery.

Read on to learn why you should be vigilant about treating chronic constipation and not just accepting it as part of your daily life.

What is chronic constipation?

If you have infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stool consistently for several weeks or longer, you’re diagnosed with chronic constipation. Usually, constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. 

Other characteristics of constipation include:

Occasional constipation is normal and common; chronic constipation is debilitating and potentially harmful.

What complications can arise?

When you suffer from chronic constipation, you may be more prone to developing hemorrhoids – swollen veins in your anus. These veins can bleed and cause pain.

Anal fissures may also form from straining and bowel pressure. This torn tissue can become irritated and inflamed, resulting in pain and bleeding with bowel movements. It can also cause spasms in the ring of muscle at the end of your anus.

Fecal impaction is another very real side effect of chronic constipation. It occurs when hardened stool gets stuck in your intestines. You can become severely ill from fecal impaction, and in some cases, it can be fatal.

Some people with chronic constipation can also develop rectal prolapse, when the rectum stretches and protrudes from the anus. Rectal prolapse can cause difficulty controlling bowel movements and lead to bleeding from the rectum. Rectal prolapse is also just uncomfortable and can make you self-conscious.

How do I resolve chronic constipation?

Conservative, at-home measures can help ease chronic constipation in some people. Include more fiber in your diet from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The team at Digestive Disorders Associates can also recommend an effective fiber supplement if you just can’t get enough from diet alone.

Also, don’t ignore the urge to pass stool. Delaying bowel movements can lead to blockages and chronic constipation. Exercise is another way to get your intestines moving – literally. Aim for some form of physical activity on most days for 30 minutes or longer.

If at-home solutions aren’t enough, we can help with medical interventions including prescription laxatives and retraining of the rectum and bowel muscles. In rare cases, surgery may be needed to provide you with relief.

If you’ve been suffering from constipation for more than a few weeks, call our office at Digestive Disorders Associates or book a consultation online. We want to help you get your digestive tract back on track so you have a regular, relieving schedule that makes you feel at ease and comfortable. We also don’t want you to suffer from the serious, unpleasant complications that chronic constipation can cause.

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