Do You Have Chronic or Acute Constipation?
Everybody has their definition of constipation, and I am sure they all feel it is chronic. It feels chronic when you have it. It does to me anyway. Because it is so miserable and threatens the way, you feel the entire day or days.
To some people, to be constipated means to have bowel movements now and then. My Dad defines constipation if he has not gone for a week! To others, if they have trouble getting out a hard stool and must strain, they feel they are constipated. Others, define constipation as that weird feeling of not getting a complete emptying of their gut after they have a bowel movement.
Acute – Chronic Constipation
To figure this out, you will have to know how long your constipation has lasted.
To be acutely constipated you must:
- Have infrequent bowel movements, that last for only a few days
- That probably has been brought because of a change in your routine or diet, lack of exercise, travel, medication, or illness.
- It can be relieved easily with laxatives, high-fiber diet, or over the counter meds
To be chronically constipated you must:
- Have it for long-term, maybe lasting for more than three months or even longer
- It is not relieved by changing your diet or by exercising and may require medical attention or even prescription medications
- It becomes a problem with your personal and work life
Those at Risk for Chronic Constipation
It is one of the most common conditions suffered by adults of the gastrointestinal tract. In the United States, there are over 2.5 million who visit their physician every year with this problem. American alone spends almost $800 MILLION on laxatives to try and treat their constipation.
You will find that the groups of people who are most at risk for chronic constipation are:
- People over 65 years of age
- Women who are pregnant
- People who do not exercise or might be confined to bed because of a physical disability
What Might Cause Chronic Constipation
Chronic constipation can be brought on by medications and other health conditions, inclusive of:
- Metabolic or endocrine problems, like hypothyroidism and diabetes
- Dysfunction of the pelvic floor that may make it hard to get the muscle contractions and rectum coordinated
- Neurologic problems that include Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, and multiple sclerosis.
- Bowel stricture (narrowing of your colon)
- Tears in the rectum and anus
- Bowel diseases, like Crohn’s, diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer
- Mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
- Any physical disability that might lead to immobility
Chronic constipation can be brought on by OTC medications and prescriptions for other health problems you may have. Some of those medications might include:
- Calcium channel blockers
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Calcium supplements
- Anti-diarrheal agents
- Anticholinergic agents
- Parkinson’s disease meds
- Antacids, mostly those high in calcium
- Iron supplements
If no reason can be found for your chronic constipation, it is referred to as idiopathic constipation.
Doctors have put together criteria to help diagnose their patient with chronic constipation. It is called the Rome IV criteria for functional constipation that requires symptoms that has to include at least two of the following:
- If you have less than three bowel movements a week that are spontaneous
- If you strain while going at least 25% of your bowel movements
- If you have hard or lumpy stools 25% of the time
- A feeling of not completely evacuating all your stool at least 25% of your bowel movements
- If you must use manual techniques (like your fingers) to help get the stool out)
The primary criteria to meet chronic constipation is if you have had symptoms for more than three months.
To try and find out the causes of your issue’s you physician will ask you all kinds of questions about your medical history, symptoms, medications and that will include the supplements you are taking, and OTC meds you are taking. If you have been having the symptoms for more than three months and meet some other criteria, your doctor may want a physical examination to begin your workup.
This physical exam might be inclusive of: a rectal exam and blood tests. If you have a rectal exam, your physician will stick a gloved finger up your rectum and check for any blockages, blood, or tenderness up inside your rectum.
After that, your doctor might decide to do more tests to try and find out what is going on. The tests might include:
- Marker study – You swallow a pill that has markers in it that shows up on the X-ray. It will show how food moves through your gut and how the muscles of your colon work.
- Anorectal manometry: Your doctor will place a tube into your rectum, and the tube has a balloon on the end of it. The doctor will then inflate the balloon and slowly pull on it to get it out. It will tell the doctor how tight the muscles are around the edge of your anus and how well your rectum works.
- Barium Enema X-ray: Barium dye is inserted into your rectum with a tube. With the barium inside you, it will highlight your rectum and the large intestine, letting the doctor better able to see what they look like on the inside.
- Colonoscopy: A flexible tube with a light and a camera will be inserted in your rectum to examine your colon. You will have pain and sedative medications.
The main take away here is if you see blood in your stool, have dark stools, severe pain with bowel movements, unexplained weight loss, see your doctor as soon as possible.
One great way to help with chronic constipation is to use Super Colon Cleanse. It is a gentle, natural, way to go and does not cause cramping or pain to your stomach when you do need to go. It is an amazing product that has nothing but benefits for you contained within.