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Information About Chronic Constipation

Although chronic constipation is usually defined as bowel movement frequency of fewer than three times per week lasting several months, individuals who pass stool more often may experience other ongoing symptoms of this condition. For example, many people experience frequent hard, small stools or the need to strain during a bowel movement.

It is important to note that what many people consider to be chronic constipation may not be diagnosed that way by a physician. To many individuals, it may seem abnormal that they pass stool less frequently than once a day, but the fact is that fewer than 50 percent of people have bowel movements once daily. In many cases, simple lifestyle modifications, such as increasing exercise, drinking more water, and eating a more fiber-rich diet, can help improve regularity in general.

However, chronic constipation is a common condition, and it is important to know the signs. Individuals who experience the following should see a physician:

  • Sudden onset or new constipation
  • Blood in the stool
  • Loss of weight that is not the result of diet and exercise
  • Severe pain during bowel movements
  • Pencil-thin stools

The physicians at Tampa General Hospital’s Endoscopy Center can provide an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for chronic constipation and other gastrointestinal conditions. Our specialized team uses the latest techniques, including colonoscopies to find colon blockages. After diagnosing the cause, our physicians can then recommend helpful lifestyle changes or prescribe medications to draw water into the intestines, which may help to alleviate symptoms and resolve the constipation. If these treatments are unsuccessful, we can recommend and perform surgical procedures to address a blockage, rectocele, anal fissure, or other condition that may be causing constipation.

Tampa General Hospital’s ability to produce positive treatment outcomes has earned us a place on U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s Best Hospitals for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery in 2017-18. To find a gastroenterologist to address your chronic constipation, use our Physician Finder or call 1-800-822-3627.