What is constipation?
Constipation is when your bowel movements are difficult or happen less often than they normally do for you (which can be 3 times a day to once every 3 days; everyone is different). It is generally described as having 3 or less bowel movements in a week.
What are the symptoms of constipation?
The main symptom is your bowel movements are less frequent than normal. They may also be hard and dry, be difficult to pass, or it may feel like you have not emptied your bowel despite having a movement.
What causes constipation?
Constipation may be caused by a number of things, such as:
- change in diet or routine,
- lack of fluids,
- not enough exercise,
- certain medications (such as narcotics and iron supplements),
- advancing age, and
Many of these can be improved with changes to lifestyle.
Medical causes of constipation may include:
When should I consult a doctor?
It is normal to get constipated from time to time. However, if your constipation continues or it interferes with your daily tasks, it’s important to seek help from your doctor or gastroenterologist. Do not over-treat constipation with laxatives in place of seeking medical advice.
You should also seek medical assistance if there is blood in your stool or bleeding from the rectum, you have persistent abdominal pain, or there is also unexplained weight loss.