What are the causes of constipation?
The following are some common causes of constipation:
- Surgical procedures
- Some medications
- Metabolic diseases like chronic kidney disease, diabetes, hypokalaemia, hyperparathyroidism
- An unbalanced diet
- Depression and stress
- Gastrointestinal tract disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Waiting too long to have a bowel movement
- Gastrointestinal blockage
In order to analyze or diagnose the cause of constipation, a medical provider will take a detailed history, perform a physical examination, and may also run lab tests. Some testing will depend on how long the person is suffering from constipation.
In cases where the cause of constipation is not clear, there are other tests that can be run. These include:
- Double-contrast opaque enema
- Study of intestinal transit times
- Anorectal manometry
Most people with constipation do not need extensive testing and can be treated with dietary changes and physical activity.
The treatment of constipation is focused on the diseases or conditions that cause it. In most cases, constipation in itself is only a symptom that can be an expression of several diseases.
When the cause of constipation is not associated with a specific disease process, it is important to focus on diet and lifestyle.
Management of constipation
Dehydration can worsen constipation so keeping hydrated is important. Increasing physical activity is also recommended. A high fiber diet including foods like rice, bran bread, peas, potatoes is recommended for constipation. Fiber adds bulk to stools which makes bowel movements easier.
Medication for constipation
The most common medications prescribed for constipation are:
- Laxatives: These speed up bowel movement by stimulating the walls of the digestive tract. Some commonly prescribed laxatives are psyllium and polycarbophil.
- Osmotic laxatives: These pull water from the surrounding tissues into the intestine area, thus softening the stools and making defecation easier. Some of the commonly used osmotic laxatives are magnesium citrate and magnesium hydroxide.
- Stimulant laxatives: These irritate the intestine which stimulates intestinal motility/movement. These also promote the influx of water into the intestine, which softens stool. Some examples are castor oil and senna.
- Stool softeners and lubricants: This category includes docusate sodium, mineral oil, and glycerin bisacodyl suppositories.
Most of these medications should not be taken regularly, or they can cause additional problems. Many of them have interactions with other medications that can be harmful. The use of medications for constipation should be undertaken in collaboration with your medical provider.
Facial abrasions and considered more serious as these have a higher risk of cicatrization and should be cleaned,debrided, and dressed daily. Dressings may require skin adhesives like the combination of gum mastic, styrax,alcohol, and methyl salicylate or tincture of benzoin.
In case of urgent medical care assistance, AfterOurs Urgent Care offers immediate telemedicine services, where medical providers are available to offer assistance. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms requiring urgent medical attention can simply book their appointment with AfterOurs Urgent Care to directly talk to an expert. If your medical issue is not appropriate for telemedicine, we will let you know and refer you to an in-person facility.
When to visit a doctor:
If you are unable to defecate easily or if you are passing less than three stools per week, you should see a medical provider in order to avoid possible serious complications.
Treatment for constipation is available at AfterOurs Urgent Care.