Almost everyone is constipated occasionally. However, if you have chronic constipation or abnormal changes in your bowel habits, you may need medical attention. At Ulster Gastroenterology in Kingston, New York, board-certified gastroenterologist Reham El-Shaer, MD, and her team diagnose the cause of your constipation and offer personalized treatments to make your bowel movements easier. Call Ulster Gastroenterology today or schedule a consultation online if you have chronic or painful constipation.
Clinically, you have constipation if you have fewer than three bowel movements a week. If infrequent bowel movements are normal for you, you should mention them to your doctor, but you probably don’t need to seek out special treatment.
There isn’t a set recommended schedule for bowel movements — some people go every day, some people only have a few bowel movements a week.
You should be concerned about constipation if it’s a change in your routine. For example, you notice when your bowel movements become less frequent, and your stools are hard, dry, and uncomfortable to pass.
In most cases, constipation is caused by your diet. If you don’t consume enough fiber or drink enough water, your intestinal tract has to work harder to extract nutrients and water and can lead to infrequent, dry stools.
Medical issues that can cause constipation include:
Other factors that contribute to constipation include having an inactive lifestyle, changes to your regular routine, consuming too much dairy, and stress.
Medications such as narcotic painkillers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and some antidepressants also can affect your bowel movements.
You know your body and what your regular bowel movements are like. If your bowel movements change and at-home remedies such as drinking more water, over-the-counter laxatives, or fiber supplements don’t help, call Ulster Gastroenterology.
Other signs that you should talk to a doctor about constipation include having black or bloody stools, severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or an extended, rigid abdomen.
The team at Ulster Gastroenterology provides physical exams and tests to diagnose the issue causing constipation. Then, they create a personalized treatment plan to restore your normal bowel movements.
Your provider may recommend dietary changes, fiber supplements, or over-the-counter stool softeners, depending on your needs. If you have a more severe gastrointestinal health issue, they may prescribe medications. In rare cases, you may need surgery to repair a structural problem.
If you need to talk to a medical professional about constipation, call Ulster Gastroenterology today or make an appointment online.