How to Manage Chronic Constipation

How to Manage Chronic Constipation

The most common digestive complaint in the United States, constipation is never any fun. If you’re one of the estimated 16% of people worldwide who experience its discomfort for weeks or months on end, learning to manage your symptoms can enhance your whole life.

Doing so may even improve your overall health at the same time.

Dr. Sreelatha Reddy and our team at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. in Sugar Land, Texas, diagnose and treat chronic constipation so that you can get back to living your life fully. Take a few moments to learn just how.

Chronic constipation basics

Chronic constipation is characterized by infrequent or difficult bowel movements for consecutive weeks or longer. While it’s easy to underestimate how many bowel movements you have, fewer than three bowel movements per week for several months is generally considered chronic. 

Each person’s “normal” bowel habits are unique, however, so it’s important to consider other potential symptoms, such as:

Because of these symptoms, chronic constipation can lead to debilitating discomfort, both physically and emotionally. 

How to manage chronic constipation

Managing chronic constipation has everything to do with the underlying cause. And your symptoms can stem from both lifestyle and physiological factors. Dehydration and a low-fiber diet commonly fuel constipation, for example, as does ongoing stress or a sedentary lifestyle.

If an underlying condition is at play, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Dr. Reddy can provide an appropriate treatment plan. In other cases, certain medications or changes in the size of your rectum contribute.

To prevent or manage chronic constipation, she may recommend lifestyle changes, such as:

For more severe symptoms or if lifestyle changes fail to help, you may benefit from bulking agents, which increase the size of your stools, making them easier to pass.

Osmotic agents, which soften stools, may be recommended if your stools are particularly dense. For short-term support, we may recommend stimulant laxatives, which trigger your intestinal walls to contract. 

If these efforts aren’t sufficient, you may be a good candidate for a prescription medication. As a last resort, if your symptoms are resistant to these treatments, we may recommend colon resection surgery.

To learn more about chronic constipation or to get the care you need, call Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, P.A. today or request your appointment online.

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