Everyone suffers from constipation from time to time. But what happens when constipation becomes something more? People who suffer from less than three bowel movements per week for a prolonged period might have chronic constipation.
What is Chronic Constipation?
When a patient has less than three bowel movements per week, chronic constipation can be diagnosed.
Many people who have chronic constipation experience no bowel movements or when they do, they experience dry stool, smaller bowel movements, straining during bowel movements or inability to pass stool on a regular basis. Those who experience this degree of constipation do not usually experience diarrhea unless they are experiencing a side effect from a laxative. Over 63 million people suffer from chronic constipation throughout North America.
Symptoms of Chron
ic ConstipationWhen a patient has at least two out of six possible symptoms over the course of three months, he or she can be diagnosed with chronic constipation. Symptoms include, straining to pass stool, hard stool, inability to pass the entire stools, blockage, use of laxatives to move stool along and less than three bowel movements per week. When a person experiences two out of six of these symptoms at least 25 percent of the time during bowel movements, they can be diagnosed with chronic constipation instead of regular constipation. Many people who experience constipation find that it is accompanied with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome that also includes cramping.
Many people also experience of other symptoms, like weight loss and bloody stool. Many of these patients also have a family history of colon cancer or begin experiencing these symptoms after they turn 50. Many patients need colonoscopies or x-rays to diagnose chronic constipation.
Causes of Chronic Constipation
Structural lesions on the colon from colon cancer or colon structures. Some medical conditions like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or thyroid disorders can cause chronic constipation. Many pregnant women also experience a more extreme form of constipation. Many medications, like anti-seizure medicines, blood pressure medications, antispasmodics and pain medications can cause chronic constipation.
Often, patients may able to switch medications in order to feel relief from constipation.
Differences between Chronic and Regular Constipation
The differences between chronic and regular constipation can be very subtle. Many people who experience constipation do not experience this disorder on a regular basis. When someone experiences less than three bowel movements per week for a three month period, chronic constipation can be diagnosed.
Treatments for Chronic Constipation
Some sufferers of chronic constipation can benefit from a change in diet, including increasing fiber and water intake. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from chronic constipation need to turn to prescription medications to ease their suffering. Some find over-the-counter stool softeners effective in their treatment. Many people who experience severe forms of chronic constipation need anorectal biofeedback (neural stimulation) or surgery to help ease their conditions.
If you suffer from chronic constipation, you might be able to find relief in non-invasive therapies like over-the-counter medications, a change in diet or prescription medications. If these do not bring your relief, you may discover that surgery or anorectal biofeedback can ease uncomfortable constipation for prolonged periods of time.