When You Should Seek Medical Attention for Your Constipation

Constipation is always uncomfortable, but it usually resolves on its own in a few days or with the help of over-the-counter laxatives. Your concern rises, though, when constipation becomes a long-term problem that affects you every day. Consider seeking help from the team here at Digestive Disorders Associates if you experience constipation for a prolonged period of time or your constipation seems abnormal.

Normal causes of constipation

Constipation may mean you have far fewer bowel movements than usual or you can’t completely empty your bowels. Your stools may be smaller or larger than normal and they’re hard and lumpy.

You can usually resolve constipation with relatively simple remedies. Eat more fiber, drink more water and fewer caffeinated drinks, increase your activity level, and keep a regular bathroom schedule.

If you’re on certain medications, including pain medications, antacids, and antidepressants, you may need to ask your family doctor (or us) for alternatives that don’t cause constipation.

When to call Digestive Disorders Associates

If your constipation lasts longer than three weeks, you should come in for an evaluation. Even if it’s caused by a treatable issue, such as too little fiber in your diet, we can help by offering suggestions as to what to eat and/or supplements to take.

Allowing constipation to go on for an extended period of time can cause unwanted side effects, such as hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse. Prolapse is when part of your intestine pushes out through the anus due to your straining.

Consult Digestive Disorder Associates if your constipation is accompanied by blood in any stools you do pass. If you have stomach pain or are losing weight without trying, it’s also a good idea to be checked. Constipation that’s new to you and is lasting several days -- without dietary changes or new medications or supplements -- deserves a medical check.

Constipation can signal serious issues

The vast majority of constipation is resolvable and doesn’t indicate a serious health problem. But in some cases, constipation is the sign of another medical issue, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, lupus, or thyroid disease. It may also indicate you have a form of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS.)

If you do have an underlying cause for constipation, the team here can help you manage your health problem along with the resulting bowel issues.

How we evaluate your constipation

At Digestive Disorders Associates, we review your medical and family history. We’ll want to know what other symptoms accompany your constipation, such as vomiting or stomach pain. We’ll discuss your eating habits, when the constipation started, and how often you normally have bowel movements. How you answer these questions helps us determine what screening tests to order so we can figure out the root cause of your constipation.

Constipation is common, but if it doesn’t resolve in a few days or weeks or isn’t clearly traceable to dietary habits or medication, it’s time to get checked.

At Digestive Disorders Associates, we help men and women in the Annapolis area with their gastrointestinal concerns. Call today or book online to be evaluated for constipation or another digestive concern.

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