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What Can Be Done About Chronic Constipation?

We are often at our most miserable when the simplest of our body functions fails to work properly.  Constipation, or infrequent bowel movements, can be the source of considerable discomfort.  In severe cases, constipation can actually affect our work and social lives so it is a serious, though quite common, condition.  But when chronic constipation occurs, it is definitely time to see a doctor.

What is Chronic Constipation?

 There is no absolute answer for this because chronic constipation will depend on the frequency of ‘normal’ bowel movements.   However, you should know when you are not having the frequency of bowel movements you normally have.  If, after taking  laxative

type remedies, and the problem persists for 2 or more days past a normal bowel movement, it could be time to see a professional because the chronic constipation may very well be the result of a much more serious condition.

Anatomic Causes of Chronic Constipation

 The two principle anatomic causes of chronic constipation are growths and a narrowing of the colon.  Both causes can be treated but a physician must first be certain as to the true cause before prescribing the correct constipation remedy.  To accomplish this, physicians have several tools at their disposal.

The simplest way to determine whether or not an anatomical cause is at the root of chronic constipation is to perform a digital examination of the anorectal area.  Basically, this will help determine if a growth or narrowing of the colon is the source of the problem.  However, should the digital examination fail to reveal a culprit for the condition, the intestines will need to be looked into.

Commonly referred to as a “lower GI”, a doctor will use a lighted probe to look inside the intestines themselves.  What are they looking for?  In truth, more serious causes of chronic constipation such as:  polyps, tumors, or evidence of a diverticular disease.  If none are present, the next step is look for functional causes of constipation.

Functional Causes of Chronic Constipation

 When a doctor is looking for the functional causes of chronic constipation, they are looking at the parts of the body responsible for bowel movements like the intestines, rectum, and anus. 

In order to determine whether or not the muscles in the intestines are working properly, a “marker study” is usually performed.  Patients are given special pills to swallow that are filled with special chemical markers that can be monitored as they pass through the body.  If no problems are found, the doctors will then look into the rectum and anus muscles themselves to see if they are functioning normally.

In a lot of cases, the cause of chronic constipation is found to be neither anatomical or functional.  Instead, poor diet and a lack of exercise are truly the culprits.  Diets high in fiber are often recommended as a long-term constipation remedy.  Still, if you are experiencing chronic constipation, a good colon flush should be in order and possibly a consultation with a professional.

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