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8 Signs You Need to See a Doctor About Constipation

Constipation signs to see a doctor

Constipation is uncomfortable – both to experience and to discuss. If you’ve ever been constipated, you’re probably familiar with the symptoms:

  • Suddenly having fewer bowel movements
  • Hard, lumpy stool
  • Needing to push or strain to have a bowel movement
  • Feeling like you are blocked up
  • Feeling like you can’t get all the stool out

Most people don’t talk to their doctor about constipation – because they don’t like talking about it or prefer to treat it at home. That’s not a problem when constipation happens occasionally due to:

  • Changes in diet
  • Changes in daily routine
  • Not eating enough fiber
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Medications
  • Eating too much dairy
  • Ignoring the urge to go

Constipation that doesn’t improve might be a sign of a more serious medical condition. Waiting too long to seek treatment can also create complications like hemorrhoids or rectal prolapse. Rectal prolapse is when the rectum (the last part of the digestive tract) slips outside of the body.

Constipation with other symptoms may indicate there is a serious problem. If you have any of the following 8 signs, it’s essential to talk to your doctor right away.

  1. Sudden onset – If you’ve always been regular and suddenly develop chronic constipation, there may be an underlying cause that needs treatment.
  2. Long-lasting – Constipation is usually a temporary problem. If you can’t resolve it at home within three weeks with water, exercise, and fiber, you should see a doctor.
  3. Blood in stool – With constipation, blood in the stool can indicate conditions like Crohn’s disease or colorectal cancer. Blood in the stool may appear bright red or may make stool look black and tarry.
  4. Unexplained weight loss – Constipation may make you feel like skipping meals, but a noticeable, unexplained weight loss can indicate celiac disease or cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.
  5. Severe abdominal pain – Intense abdominal pain with constipation can signify a serious problem like intestinal obstruction or diverticulitis.
  6. Vomiting – Vomiting with constipation can be a sign of bowel obstruction, or being unable to pass stool due to a blockage. Causes include severe inflammation, a hernia, or a tumor.
  7. Bloating – Painful bloating with constipation can be a sign of bowel obstruction, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach does not digest and move food down the digestive tract properly.
  8. Racing heart – If you experience a racing heart with constipation, you might have fecal impaction. That’s a dangerous condition where hard, dry stool gets stuck and blocks new stool from passing. It can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and even confusion. Fecal impaction can become an emergency if not addressed quickly.

Constipation can often be treated or prevented by drinking adequate water, adding fiber to your diet, and regular exercise. If needed, laxatives can help, but your body can also become dependent on them if you take them too frequently.

If your constipation is becoming a problem, it’s time to see a doctor. Constipation may be uncomfortable to talk about – but living with an untreated condition isn’t necessary.

Don’t delay getting relief from chronic constipation – schedule an appointment today!

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