TMJ Center of Los Angeles

When Should I See a Doctor for Constipation?

About 4 million Americans are affected by constipation. In fact, it’s the most common gastrointestinal complaint. Yet, despite how commonplace this condition is, most of us know very little about it.

While constipation isn’t usually serious, it can be painful and uncomfortable. Keep reading to learn about the symptoms, prevention methods, and when it’s time to see your doctor.

Common Causes of Constipation

Common reasons for constipation are:

  • A poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Medications
  • Underlying medical conditions

Symptoms to Watch For

There are several symptoms associated with constipation that you can watch for. They include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Lack of regular bowel movements
  • Large, hard-to-pass stools

Most of the time, it’s possible to alleviate these symptoms at home.

How to Prevent Constipation

Treating and preventing constipation usually involves making lifestyle changes. These include eating a high-fiber diet, drinking more water, and increasing the amount of exercise you get. In addition, monitoring your bowel movements can be an important step.

Sometimes, your doctor may also recommend an over-the-counter or prescription laxative to help relieve your symptoms.

High Fiber Foods

Fiber helps provide healthy digestive function and promotes bowel movements. A diet high in fiber can help prevent constipation.

High fiber foods include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts

Supplements like psyllium husk powder and Metamucil are also good sources of fiber.

Drinking More Water

How much water should you drink daily to keep things moving along? Most adults should aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.

Walking for Constipation Relief

Walking is the simplest solution for relieving constipation. It helps stimulate the digestive system and regular bowel movements. Walking is also excellent for improving your overall health.

When to See a Doctor

Most people experience constipation at some point in their lives, and it’s not usually a cause for concern. However, there are some symptoms that may interfere with your quality of life and indicate a more urgent problem. 

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor:

  • Persistent pain in the abdomen or rectum
  • Blood in your stool
  • A change in your stool color
  • A change in your bowel habits
  • Weight loss

Also, if you’re frequently constipated, see a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.

In conclusion, constipation is a common condition. Most times, simple lifestyle changes will prevent and treat it. However, if constipation persists or you experience symptoms that interfere with your lifestyle, it’s essential to see your gastroenterologist.

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