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Chronic Constipation

Common Causes of Chronic Constipation

Constipation causes frequent problems for millions of people, yet many never realize their body is having a problem. However, the human body is a finely tuned machine and it does not take much to throw off its delicate balance.

Infrequent constipation can be caused by dietary changes or a lack of activity, or as a side effect to medications. However, chronic constipation – that is, a stool frequency of less than three times per week on a regular basis – may be a sign that there is a serious problem occurring in your colon. In some cases, people endure chronic constipation for years, only to discover that it was a side effect of a more serious health issue.

The most obvious side effect of constipation is the inability to have a regular bowel movement. If this condition persists for more than three days, it is important to consult a physician to determine what may be causing the problem. Ignoring constipation will not make it go away, and can lead to a more serious bowel obstruction.

Symptoms of Constipation

Many times, people write off constipation symptoms as harmless. However, sometimes these symptoms can point to a more serious problem. Here are some key things to look for:

  • Dry bowel movements: Dry movements are usually indicative that something is going wrong in your intestinal tract. The colon is not absorbing enough water to make bowel movements easier and obstructions can occur.
  • Vomiting and nausea: Many constipation sufferers notice that they are frequently nauseous during a bout. This can have many causes, but it may be serious. If you experience chronic vomiting, that is likely cause for concern. This can also lead to dehydration, which further upsets the intestinal tract.
  • Abdominal swelling: Don’t confuse this with bloating, which is another common side effect of constipation. Swelling is quite painful and may indicate that there is a serious blockage in the intestinal tract. If you have experienced acute abdominal swelling and have not had a bowel movement recently, you should seek medical assistance.

Constipation can have lots of underlying causes, many of them minor. However, in some cases, chronic constipation may point to a more serious health problem, such as colon cancer. Frequent colon cancer screenings are the best way to detect this cancer in its early stages, while it is still easy to treat.

For more information about the causes and symptoms of chronic constipation, contact a physician near you.

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