Encyclopedia

Chronic constipation

Chronic constipation is a condition characterized by infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stool that lasts for several weeks or longer.

Constipation is usually described as fewer than 3 bowel movements per week.

Although occasional constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation, which can affect their ability to perform everyday tasks.

The chronic form of the condition can also lead to excessive straining during bowel movements and other signs and symptoms.

Treatment for chronic constipation depends on the underlying cause. However, sometimes the cause of the condition is never identified.

What are the symptoms?

• Fewer than 3 bowel movements per week;
• Excessive straining during bowel movements;
• The stool is lumpy or too hard;
• Sensation of obstruction in the rectum, which prevents defecation;
• The affected person feels that he cannot completely empty the contents of the rectum.
Need helpto evacuate feces from the rectum. For example, the need to press the abdomen or remove feces with a finger from the rectum.

Constipation can be considered chronic if a person has experienced two or more of these symptoms in the past 3 months.

When to seek medical attention?

Consult your doctor if you notice that your bowel habits have changed permanently for unknown reasons.

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What are the causes?

Constipation most often occurs when stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract, causing it to dry out and harden.

Blockages in the colon or rectum can prevent the normal movement of the intestinal passage.

The reasons for this are:

• Anal fissure;
• Intestinal obstruction;
• Colon cancer;
• Narrowings or strictures of the colon;
• Other types of abdominal malignancies that press colon;
• Rectal cancer;
• Rectocele;

Problems with the nerves of the colon and rectum

Neurological problems can affect the nerves that control the contractions of the muscles of the colon and rectum and, accordingly, ensure the movement of intestinal contents.

Possible causes are:

• Autonomic neuropathy;
• Multiple sclerosis;
• Parkinson’s disease;
• Spinal cord injury;
• Heart attack;

Problems with the muscles involved in bowel movement can also cause chronic constipation.

For example:

• Inability to relax the pelvic muscles to ensure the evacuation of the contents of the rectum;
• Lack of coordination in the contraction and relaxation of the pelvic muscles /dyssynergy/;
• Weakened pelvic muscles;

Conditions affecting the hormonal balance in the body

Hormones help to balance fluid levels in the body.

Diseases or conditions that disrupt the hormonal balance in the body can also cause chronic constipation such as:

• Diabetes;
• Overactive parathyroid gland /hyperparathyroidism/;
• Pregnancy;
• Decreased function of the thyroid gland /hypothyroidism/;

Treatment of chronic constipation

Treatment begins with dietary and lifestyle changes aimed at increasing intestinal peristalsis.

If these changes don’t help, doctors recommend medication or surgery.

To deal with chronic constipation the following changes are recommended:

Increasing fiber intake – including foods containing fiber in the daily menu helps to increase the volume of stools, which accelerates their easier passage through the intestines. In order not to stress the body, it is necessary to gradually add fruits and vegetables to your meals, and it is necessary to chew the food very well before swallowing it.

• A daily intake of a certain amount of fiber is usually recommended.

The required amount is 14 grams for every 1000 calories of food consumed. That is, a healthy adult needs about 30 grams of ballast substances per day.

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