Chronic Constipation: What You Need to Know
If you’ve ever been constipated, you know how uncomfortable it can be. But what is considered chronic constipation? The condition is usually defined as bowel movement frequency of fewer than three times per week, lasting several months. But even people who pass stool more often may experience other ongoing symptoms of this condition. For example, many people have hard, small stools or the need to strain during a bowel movement.
Is Your Constipation Chronic?
It is important to note that what you may consider to be chronic constipation may not be diagnosed that way by a physician. It may seem abnormal if you pass stool less frequently than once a day, but the fact is that fewer than 50 percent of people have bowel movements once daily!
However, chronic constipation is a common condition and it is important to know the signs. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you 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
In many cases, the following simple lifestyle modifications can help improve regularity in general:
- Increasing exercise
- Drinking more water
- Eating a more fiber-rich diet
But when these methods don’t help your symptoms, you may have chronic constipation. The physicians at Tampa General Hospital’s Endoscopy Center can help. We’ll provide an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for your chronic constipation or any other gastrointestinal condition.
For example, our specialized team will use advanced technology to perform diagnostic tests, such as 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. This may help relieve 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.
World-Class Care in Tampa Bay
Tampa General Hospital is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's best hospitals and highest ranked in Florida for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery.
To find a gastroenterologist to address your chronic constipation, use our Physician Finder or call 1-800-822-3627.