Constipation is the infrequent and difficult passage of stool. The frequency of bowel movements varies among healthy individuals ranging from three bowel movements a day to three a week. Constipation is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week.
Though occasional constipation is quite common, some people experience chronic constipation that can interfere with their ability to go about their daily routine.
Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include:
· Passing fewer than three stools per week.
· Having hard lumpy stool.
· Straining to have a bowel movement.
· Feeling as though you cannot completely empty the stool from your rectum.
Factors that may increase your risk of chronic constipation include:
· Being an older adult
· Eating a low fiber diet
· Getting little or no physical activity
· Being dehydrated
· Taking certain medications including opioid pain medications, sedatives or medications to lower blood pressure.
Complications of chronic include:
· Hemorrhoids. These are swollen veins in and around the anus which are the result of straining to have a bowel movement.
· Anal fissure. This is torn skin in your anus. A hard stool can cause tears in the anus.
· Fecal Impaction. This happens when stool cannot be expelled.
· Rectal prolapse. Intestine that protrudes from the anus due to straining.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience persistent changes in your bowel habits.