The Signs & Symptoms of Constipation
Constipation is a common occurrence that affects many people in this country from time to time. When bowel movements become difficult or happen less frequently. Normally, the length of time between bowel movements can range quite widely depending on the person in question. There are some people who normally have more than two bowel movements a day, while others may only have go one or two times per week. However, if more than three days have passed between movements, than that is too long. After these three days, the human feces will start to become harder and thus more difficult to pass.
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The Common Signs of Constipation
While going a day or two without a movement doesn’t necessarily mean you are constipated, some adjustments may need to be made. If a person has experienced at least two of the following signs and symptoms for at least three of the last six months, then they probably are constipated. Some common signs and symptoms of constipation include:
- Experiencing hard stools
- Having less than three bowel movements a week
- Excessive straining during these bowel movements
- Experiencing a feeling of incomplete evacuation following a bowel movement
- Struggling with a sense of rectal blockage
- Having to resort to manual maneuvers in order to complete a bowel movement, including finger evacuation or manipulation of the lower abdomen
When to Seek Additional Medical Care
Fortunately, constipation is not often serious, even though it can be quite annoying. In general, people who are experiencing some constipation won’t need to seek additional medical help. On the other hand, chronic constipation could cause a number of other medical complications, or it could be a symptom of a more serious underlying problem.
People may need to schedule an appointment with their doctor if they experience an unexplained onset of constipation, a sudden but significant alteration in their bowel habits, or if their symptoms become more severe and persist for more than three weeks. Someone should also consider seeking additional medical care if they are experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms, as these may be an indication that there is a much more serious underlying disorder:
- Intense abdominal pain
- Pain in the rectum
- Blood present in stool
- Alternation between periods of constipation and diarrhea
- Bowel movements that are still more than three days apart, in spite of changes made to diet or fitness level
- Extremely thin stools
- Unexplained weight loss
Please remember that only a small percentage of patients are experiencing constipation as the result of a more serious underlying condition. If you have been dealing with the symptoms of constipation for more than two weeks, then you can schedule an appointment with your primary health care provider in order to determine what is causing this issue and how to properly treat it.