Being constipated from time to time is completely normal. Perhaps you have just forgotten to drink plenty of fluids, add servings of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to your diet, or have enough physical activity.
However, it is a completely different matter if you are constipated all the time. According to doctors, constipation is regarded as chronic if it’s around for at least 3 months.
We all know that constipation can cause really uncomfortable stomach cramps and abdominal bloating. However, those should be the least of your concerns if you have chronic constipation. That’s because it is associated with certain complications, many of which can be quite serious.
So if you believe that you are suffering from chronic constipation and you cannot deal with it at home, consider paying your doctor a visit before these complications of chronic constipation come into being and bug you:
Being constipated requires you to strain like there’s no tomorrow. Constantly straining on the toilet can cause the blood vessels in the rectal area to swell and enlarge. This can lead to the formation of lumps that can cause pain — usually lots of it! Most cases of hemorrhoids can be treated with the help of a topically-applied medication. However, sometimes a doctor may recommend surgical intervention.
Instead of hemorrhoids, chronic constipation can leave you with anal fissures. Put simply, these are cracks or slits in the anal area. Anal fissures can cause itching as well as pain and bleeding each time you move your bowels. Anal fissures usually go away on their own. However, at times an ointment may be prescribed in order to facilitate healing.
Doctors call it fecal incontinence. Everyone else simply refers to it as the inability to control bowel movements — stool simply leaks out from the rectum. Such can be blamed on the fact that straining as a result of constipation can cause the muscles of the rectum to weaken and its nerves to become damaged. Fecal incontinence can be treated via medications, pelvic strengthening exercises or surgery, depending on the cause or severity of the problem.
Just like what the name says, rectal prolapse is characterized by the protrusion of a part of the rectum from the anus. Doctors say that rectal prolapse is the least common complication of chronic constipation, but it’s definitely one of the most serious of the bunch. Mild cases of rectal prolapse tend to resolve on their own. However, severe cases of it usually warrant surgery.
The primary goal is to keep constipation from going on for a long time in order to prevent it from becoming chronic. Some of the things that you may do to effectively fend off or deal with constipation include:
- Regularly consume fruits and vegetables as they are loaded with fiber that facilitates the evacuation of your bowels.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent your stools from becoming hard and difficult to pass.
- Head to the bathroom each time there’s an urge to move your bowels — ignoring that urge can in fact cause constipation.
- Stay as physically active as possible to help your entire digestive tract function optimally.
- Keep your stress to a minimum — yes, doctors say that too much stress can be blamed for your bout of constipation.
In some instances, constipation can stem from certain medical conditions. They can range anywhere from multiple sclerosis, bowel cancer to depression. There are times, too, in which it’s due to the intake of certain medications like painkillers, antidepressants and those for controlling the blood pressure.
Just in case you feel that your constipation can be blamed on an undiagnosed health-related concern or a medication prescribed to you, approach your doctor without delay.