Sievering Surgical Clinic

Sieveringer St 9, A-1190 Vienna Tel: 328 8777

Gastroenterology Unit

Constipation

Diagnosis & Treatment

Constipation

Patient information on maldigestion disorder

Definition

ARTICLE SECTIONS

Part 1

Introduction

Constipation is a very common digestive system problem in which one complains of infrequent bowel movements, passing hard stools, or straining during bowel movements.

In terms of frequency, what constitutes constipation for one person may be normal for someone else. That's because the normal frequency of bowel movements varies widely - from three a day to three a week. What's normal for you may not be normal for someone else.

In general, though, you're probably experiencing constipation if you pass hard and dry stools less than three times a week. In some cases, constipation also may make you feel bloated or sluggish or experience discomfort or pain.

Fortunately, a few common-sense lifestyle changes, including getting more exercise, eating high-fibre foods and drinking plenty of water, can go a long way toward preventing or alleviating constipation.

Definition

Constipation is often regarded as a trivial symptom, however for patients it can be a major disability. It is a symptom which means different things to different people, and the term has been shown to be ambiguous and misleading. To some it implies stools that are too small, too hard, difficult to expel, while to others it refers to prolonged and repeated attempts at defecation, and even the need for digital assistance. Attention has been drawn to the importance of stool weight and transit time. However since these parameters are difficult to assess, stool frequency remains a common guide. 

Constipation is passage of small amounts of hard, dry bowel movements, usually fewer than three times a week. People who are constipated may find it difficult and painful to have a bowel movement. Other symptoms of constipation include feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish.

Many people think they are constipated when, in fact, their bowel movements are regular. For example, some people believe they are constipated, or irregular, if they do not have a bowel movement every day. However, there is no right number of daily or weekly bowel movements. Normal may be three times a day or three times a week depending on the person. In addition, some people naturally have firmer stools than others.

At one time or another almost everyone gets constipated. Insufficient liquid intake, poor diet, stress and lack of exercise are usually the causes. In most cases, constipation is temporary and not serious. Understanding causes, prevention, and treatment will help most people find relief.

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| 25.08.2011 | Read more | Print |

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