Occasional constipation can be very common, but if you are suffering from chronic constipation, your ability to handle every day tasks could be compromised. Constipation occurs when a person has fewer than three bowel movements a week or has bowel movements with stools that are hard, dry and small, making them painful or difficult to pass. People with constipation can experience abdominal pain or bloating. Most of the time constipation lasts a short time and resolves without causing problems. However, constipation can be a chronic or long-lasting problem and may have a serious impact on the person’s life. Several factors that contribute to constipation are diets low in fiber, lack of physical activity, medications, changes in a person’s daily routine and ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.
Usually, constipation is diagnosed based on the person’s medical history and physical exam. Most people do not need to undergo testing, but if the person has been constipated for a greater length of time or has severe constipation, a healthcare provider may determine that testing is needed.
The type of treatment used for constipation depends on its cause, severity and how long the person has been constipated. Typically constipation resolves with changes in eating, nutrition and lifestyle changes like exercise. If a person does not find relief with these changes, his or her healthcare provider may recommend medications, surgery or biofeedback – a process used to retrain the muscles of the anus and rectum.