It’s likely that you have, at some point in your life, felt you were “constipated.” But what exactly is constipation? Is it dangerous? And what can you do about it?
MyLifeStages spoke with Mountain View gastroenterologist Katerina Shetler, M.D. of Palo Alto Medical FoundationOpens new window, to get some answers to this very common (but rarely discussed) medical issue.
According to Dr. Shetler, patients tend to believe they are “constipated” when they have most any difficulty with bowel movements. But the true definition of constipation is this:
Constipation is a very common problem. Occasionally it can indicate a serious medical condition, so it should not be ignored, especially if you have not had the symptoms of constipation before and suddenly do. Rectal bleeding, abdominal pain or weight loss should also be evaluated by physician.
Constipation can be the result of disorders of metabolism, obstructions of the bowel, cancer, problems with nearby pelvic organs such as pelvic prolapse, or a side effect of medications.
The best approach is to discuss your symptoms with a medical professional in order to assess your risks for other diseases, and to undergo appropriate evaluation.
If constipation does not represent a serious medical condition, most of us can resolve it with these healthy habits: