Constipation

The colon’s main function is to absorb water from residual food as it passes through the digestive system, creating stool. If the stool remains in the colon for too long, it can become hard or difficult to pass, leading to constipation. Constipation is characterized by trouble emptying the bowel, either through tough bowel movements or bowel movements happening less frequently than normal. While constipation can be uncomfortable, it’s typically not life-threatening, but can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy is generally used to look for underlying conditions causing constipation.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • An individual’s definition of “normal” bowel movements may vary person-to-person, however, going longer than 3 days without a bowel movement is usually too long. You may be constipated if you experience the following symptoms:
  • Few bowel movements
  • Difficulty having a bowel movement
  • Hard, small stools
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment Options:

Common causes of constipation are lack of fiber or physical activity; therefore, lifestyle changes like diet often relieve symptoms. Constipation can also be a side effect of medications. If there is a blockage in the digestive system due to an underlying condition, a patient may need prescription medication or surgery to resolve it.