Whether from a change in routine or side effects from a new medication, constipation is a common problem that affects people of all ages. Though constipation usually resolves on its own, if your bowel change is a chronic problem or causes abdominal pain, board-certified gastroenterologist Nelson Tajong, MD, at Lakeside Gastroenterology, can provide the care you need. To get relief from your constipation, call the office in Conroe and The Woodlands, Texas, or schedule an appointment online today.

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What is constipation?

In medical terms, constipation is when you have three or fewer bowel movements a week. However, bowel habits differ from person to person; some have several bowel movements a day while others may have only two bowel movements a week.

Constipation occurs when you experience a change in bowel habits that causes dry, hard stools that you find difficult or painful to pass.

What causes constipation?

Constipation occurs when your large intestine absorbs too much water from your food waste. Removing too much water causes dry stools that are too hard and difficult to pass.

Many conditions may cause constipation, including:

  • Not eating enough fiber or drinking enough fluids
  • Change in eating habits or routine
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Stress
  • A side effect of medication
  • Underlying gastrointestinal condition (irritable bowel syndrome or diverticulitis)
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Structural defect
  • A neuropathic condition that slows down digestion
  • Colon cancer

Your constipation may lead to other health problems such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

When should I seek medical help for constipation?

In most cases, constipation resolves on its own within a few days. However, if you continue to struggle with dry, hard, difficult to pass bowel movements for more than a week, then you should schedule a consultation with the experts at Lakeside Gastroenterology.

Though your constipation may be simple to resolve, it may also be a symptom of an underlying gastrointestinal condition.

During your exam, your gastroenterologist asks detailed questions about your usual bowel habits and your current symptoms. They also ask about your normal diet, medical history, and types of medications and supplements you take and perform a physical exam.

If needed, your gastroenterologist may run tests to confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis. Additional testing may include blood work, stool test, ultrasound, MRI, or a colonoscopy.

How is constipation treated?

The gastroenterologist at Lakeside Gastroenterology takes a patient-centered approach to care and customizes your constipation treatment plan based on the underlying cause.

Initially, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes to improve bowel habits, such as adding more fiber to your diet, drinking more fluids, or engaging in regular exercise. They may also recommend a fiber supplement, stool softener, or prescription medication to treat your constipation.

Though rare, your gastroenterologist may recommend surgery to treat the underlying cause of your constipation, such as intestinal blockage or stricture (narrowing of the intestine).

Constipation is common and rarely a serious medical issue. However, when your constipation is an ongoing problem that affects your day-to-day life, you should schedule a consultation at Lakeside Gastroenterology. Call the office or book an appointment online today.