What Is Constipation?
Constipation is a very common condition, affecting people of all ages. It can mean that you are not passing stools (faeces) as often as you normally do, you have to strain more than usual or you are unable to completely empty your bowels.
Many people only experience constipation for a short period of time with no lasting effects on their health.
Causes Of Constipation
Determining the exact cause can be difficult but diet has a significant role with eat too little fibre e.g not enough fruit, vegetables, and cereals and drinking too little fluid contributory factors. Some medicines can also cause constipation.
Medical conditions such underactive thyroid, I.B.S. (irritable bowel syndrome), anxiety and depression can also have an influence.
Symptoms Of Constipation
There are various symptoms of constipation as can be seen below.
- Straining when you have a bowel movement
- Feeling as though you haven’t fully emptied your bowels
- Passing unusually large or small faeces or your stools are dry and lumpy
- Having fewer than three bowel movements a week
- Stomach pain or discomfort
- Feeling sick or bloated
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis Of Constipation
A diagnosis can be made without tests as it should be identifiable from your symptoms and medical history.
Severe symptoms may initiate a blood, thyroid and other tests to rule out other conditions.
Consider further tests if symptoms prove troublesome or there are associated symptoms such as bleeding, weight loss, bouts of diarrhoea or symptoms are severe and recurring.
Treatment For Constipation
Simple and dietary changes are frequently advised with an increase of fibre intake advised to help the constipation and because it is good for general health. It is also important to drink enough water – between eight to ten cups a day – as it helps move digested food through the bowel more easily.
Over-the-counter laxatives are available from pharmacies but it may take more than one to improve the condition. Ask the pharmacist for advice.
A GP will normally advise you to stop taking laxatives once the stools are soft and easily passed but if constipation is caused by an underlying condition or a medicine you have been prescribed then the course could last for months.
To ask a question about a constipation or to book an appointment, contact our specialist team available Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9am – 1pm.
Our gastrointestinal specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs. If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment. If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use.Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.