Constipation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Q&A
Constipation is quite common and can be caused by a lack of dietary fiber, fluid intake, and activity. Constipation is a condition marked by difficult or infrequent bowel movements. If you have less than three bowel movements each week, you may have constipation. At Columbia Clinic Urgent Care, we provide comprehensive treatment for constipation. For more information, please contact us or book an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you at Tibbetts St Portland, Stark Street Portland and Tigard, OR.
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Constipation is a prevalent health issue characterized by difficulty passing stool or having fewer than three bowel movements a week. The main causes of constipation typically involve changes in diet or routine, with a lack of fiber intake being a significant factor. While bowel movement frequency varies among individuals, constipation is often indicated by painful bowel movements, hard and dry stools, and a feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation.
The condition occurs when the colon absorbs excessive water from fecal matter, drying out the stool and making it hard to pass. This can result from food moving too slowly through the digestive tract, which leads to increased water absorption from the waste. Several factors, including dietary habits, lifestyle choices, medication use, and medical conditions, can contribute to constipation.
Common dietary and lifestyle-related causes include insufficient fiber intake, dehydration, and consuming large amounts of cheese and milk. Additionally, inadequate exercise, dehydration, resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, changes in routine, including sleep changes, and mental and emotional factors such as anxiety and stress can influence the development of constipation.
The primary symptom of constipation is difficulty passing stool or pain during bowel movements. Other symptoms include straining during bowel movements, hard and dry stools, having fewer than three bowel movements a week, a sensation that the rectum is blocked, and a feeling that not all stool has passed.
If two or more of these symptoms persist for three months or longer, it’s considered chronic constipation. While constipation is common and not usually a significant cause for concern, persistent symptoms lasting longer than three weeks may indicate an underlying health condition and necessitate medical intervention.
Constipation is generally classified as either primary or secondary. Primary constipation, also known as functional constipation, arises without an underlying medical condition and is often the result of dietary or behavioral factors such as insufficient fiber or fluid intake, changes in physical activity, and alterations in sleep patterns.
In contrast, secondary constipation is a symptom of an underlying health condition or a side effect of certain medications. It can be indicative of various endocrine and metabolic disorders, obstructions caused by cancer or other blockages, and a range of other diseases. Additionally, certain medications, such as opiates, can lead to secondary constipation.
Constipation can also present as either acute or chronic, with chronic constipation typically persisting for three months or longer and being an ongoing concern, whereas acute constipation will typically resolve much more quickly.
Primary constipation can often be managed and treated by health and lifestyle interventions, including dietary changes and the adoption of an exercise regime toward a more active lifestyle. Secondary constipation typically necessitates identifying and treating the existing cause and underlying condition.
It’s advisable to seek medical attention if constipation symptoms are progressing, lingering, causing discomfort, or if there’s suspicion of an underlying issue. Symptoms that persist beyond three weeks or interfere with daily activities warrant a visit to a healthcare professional, such as those at Columbia Clinic Urgent Care.
Immediate medical care is also necessary if constipation is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as black stools, rectal bleeding, blood on toilet paper, abdominal pain, significant weight fluctuations, or changes in the color and shape of stools.
Visiting Columbia Clinic Urgent Care can provide patients with prompt evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment, whether addressing the constipation itself or identifying and managing an underlying health problem causing the constipation. The goal is to offer symptomatic relief and long-term improvements in the patient’s health outlook.
Constipation treatment is available at Columbia Clinic Urgent Care. For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment online. We serve patients from Tibbetts St Portland, Milwaukie OR, Oak Grove OR, Stark Street Portland, Fairview OR, Happy Valley OR, Gladstone OR, Cedar Mill OR, Tigard OR, Lake Oswego OR, Tualatin OR, Oregon City OR.