December 2022 is Constipation Awareness Month

What is Constipation? 

Constipation is a condition in which a person has uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements, typically less than three per week. The stool becomes dry and hard, making the bowel movements painful and difficult to pass. Chronic constipation affects up to 20% of adults and 16% of children in the United States. Many people with this condition report that their symptoms interfere with daily activities and negatively impact their self-confidence. While chronic constipation is common among all ages and genders, those who are particularly at risk include women, older adults, and non-Caucasian individuals. Keep reading to learn more about the causes and symptoms of constipation, why it’s important to treat it, and how to effectively manage this condition with the help of Digestive Healthcare Center in New Jersey. 

What are the Causes of Constipation?

There are several known causes of constipation, however it mostly occurs when the stools don’t move out or move slowly from the rectum. Some factors that may contribute to this condition include:

  • Not eating enough foods rich in fiber
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Consuming a diet rich in meat and dairy products
  • Not exercising
  • Ignoring the urge to pass stools
  • Taking certain medications
  • A change in your routine or lifestyle
  • Excessive stress

Common Signs & Symptoms of Constipation

Constipation is one of the most difficult gut symptoms to define because it varies from person to person. The onset and duration of constipation are important to consider. People who are constipated may experience one or more of the following signs or symptoms: 

  • Reduced stool frequency
  • Hard stools
  • Difficulty passing stools
  • Straining
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying after defecation

What Happens if Constipation is Left Untreated?

If left untreated, chronic constipation can lead to a wide range of complications. Some of these complications include: 

  • Hemorrhoids – swelling and inflammation in the rectal veins
  • Fecal impaction – hardened stool that’s stuck in the rectum or lower colon
  • Anal fissures – a small tear in the lining of the anus
  • Rectal prolapse  – when the rectum comes stretched out and protrudes from the anus
  • Stress urinary incontinence – when urine leaks out with sudden pressure on the bladder and urethra

Diagnosis & Treatment of Constipation in NJ

To diagnose constipation, your DHC gastroenterologist in NJ will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam and a digital rectal exam. In addition, they may order one or more diagnostic tests and procedures to identify the cause of your symptoms and determine if you have chronic constipation. The types of tests performed will depend on your symptoms, medical history, and overall health. These tests include the following:

Most cases of mild to moderate constipation can be treated at home. Start by taking inventory of what you eat and drink, and then make the necessary adjustments. Treatment for constipation is generally effective, although it may take several months before a regular bowel pattern is re-established. 

How to Manage Symptoms of Chronic Constipation

Constipation is a chronic condition that affects thousands of people daily. It is essential to practice self-care and make lifestyle changes to manage constipation and improve your quality of life. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables can help relieve symptoms of constipation. You should also give yourself enough time, and privacy, to pass stools comfortably and not resist the urge to go to the bathroom. If these methods don’t work, your doctor may recommend an oral laxative medication to help empty your bowels.

December 2022 is Constipation Awareness Month

Living with constipation affects not only those who suffer but also their family members and friends. It is important to understand the condition and advocate for better health. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) recognizes December as Constipation Awareness Month to address the issues that people with constipation deal with, and to increase public knowledge of a common yet often misunderstood condition. If you or a loved one has constipation, DHC is here to help. 

Get Relief for Constipation at Digestive Healthcare Center in New Jersey

Most people experience constipation at some point in their lives. However, they may not be aware of the complications it can produce when ignored. At Digestive Healthcare Center, we are committed to providing the highest quality care and treatment for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, including constipation. Our team will evaluate your symptoms and work to develop a personalized treatment plan to provide relief. Contact us for more information about our services, or schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at DHC in Hillsborough or Somerville, NJ today!

Make an Appointment for Comprehensive Digestive Care in NJ

At Digestive Healthcare Center, we want each patient at our three offices in New Jersey to feel confident about their digestive health. We encourage you to contact us today to make an appointment with one of our expert gastroenterologists – don’t wait to start putting your digestive health first!

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