Constipation is one of the common gastrointestinal symptoms where an individual may have difficulty in passing stools or experience infrequent bowel movements. Infrequent bowel movements may vary from person to another, where some pass three stools in a week or more severely some pass out one stool in a week. Individuals who have constipation find it painful while passing stool and may experience straining or feeling of incomplete empty of stool.
Some of the causes of constipation include poor dietary habits such as low fiber diet, hormonal and central nervous system disorders, lack of physical activity, pregnancy, use of certain medications, ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement and dehydration.
Your doctor may collect the medical history, perform physical examination and may order certain tests to confirm the cause for the condition. Some of the tests performed include blood tests, abdominal X-ray, barium enema, defecography and colonic transit (marker) studies.
Constipation may cause certain complications such as hemorrhoids because of strain; anal fissures which are tears in the skin around anus that may cause bleeding and rectal prolapse where the rectum protrudes into the anus because of strain exerted during defecation.
It may also cause fecal impaction a condition where the hard stool may pack itself inside the intestine and rectum such that pushing does not help in passing the stool.
Although these complications are worrisome several treatment options are available to treat these complications.