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When to See a Specialist About Recurrent Constipation

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When to See a Specialist About Recurrent Constipation

Mar 02, 2023

Constipation occurs when feces becomes hard and difficult to expel due to the colon absorbing too much moisture from it. The slower the digestion, the more water the colon absorbs from the feces. As a consequence, emptying the bowel can be a pain. 

Almost everyone experiences constipation, and there are many over-the-counter solutions that are effective at treating constipation. However, if constipation becomes chronic, it could indicate an unresolved health issue. 

Below, we asked our experts at Carolina Digestive Health Associates to explain the most common causes of constipation. Read on to find out when it’s time to drop by the doctor’s office. 

Constipation causes

Many factors can impact your digestion and ability to have healthy bowel movements. These include the following:

  • Medications (e.g., iron supplements, antacids, narcotics, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications)
  • Certain health conditions (e.g., anal fissures, chronic kidney failure, colon or rectal cancer, excess calcium levels, thyroid issues, and irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Diets low in fiber
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Dehydration 
  • Chronic stress 

Stress can trigger constipation. Once the body enters fight or flight mode, certain bodily functions that don’t help with fighting real or perceived threats are deprioritized. Digestion is one of the bodily functions that gets repressed during stressful periods. 

When it’s time to see a doctor 

Sometimes, constipation goes away by itself with a few lifestyle changes, such as drinking certain herbal teas, drinking more water, or adding more fiber to your diet. Working out regularly can also reduce your risk of constipation. 

If constipation lasts longer than two weeks, or if you experience bloating, pain, fever, fatigue, weight loss, poor appetite, nausea, or blood in your stool, you could benefit from seeing a specialist. 

Diagnosis and treatment

The first step in diagnosing your constipation is figuring out what’s causing it. This may include our providers reviewing your medical history and the type of medications you’re on. 

If your constipation is severe and doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes, there are other tests available, including a rectal exam, blood tests to look at your thyroid hormones and calcium levels, and abdominal X-rays. 

Treatments for constipation include medications that draw more water from your colon to your stools, enemas, stool softeners, and fiber supplements. 

If your constipation is causing you discomfort, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our experts will determine the source of your discomfort and let you know what can be done to regulate your bowel movements.