What is it?

Constipation is the condition of having a hard bowel movement or bowel movement at a low frequency. Constipation is considered one of the most common digestive problems, affecting more than 2.5 million people in the US. There are many causes for constipation, including low fiber diet, dehydration, medications, pregnancy, emotional stress, and certain diseases.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Outlet Dysfunction Constipation
- Slow Transit Constipation

Signs & symptoms

The definition of constipation is personal and may vary between different patients. General symptoms of constipation may include:
- Less than three bowel movements per week.
- Hard, dry stools.
- Discomfort or strain during a bowel movement.
- Additional gastrointestinal symptoms (such as bloody stools, vomiting, or weight changes) may also be present, depending on the disorder.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is made by questioning and investigating the medical history and physical examination to provide additional information and exclude other diseases. Further tests include:
- Stool sampling test.
- Blood testing.
- Endoscopy – a procedure that allows looking at the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and taking a biopsy, using a special camera inserted through the mouth.
- Colonoscopy – a procedure that allows looking at the rectum, large intestine (colon), and small intestine and taking a biopsy, using a special camera inserted through the rectum.
- Abdominal X-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the specific disorder and the cause of constipation. It may include laxatives, antibiotics, or on the contrary, cessation of some medicines if they are suspected as the cause. Some life changes may also be advisable, such as limiting alcohol and caffeine drinking, quitting smoking, adding fiber to the diet, and working out regularly.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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