When to Seek Medical Help for Constipation

Woman seeing doctor about constipation symptoms

Everyone has trouble with constipation at some time or another. Bowel movement can be different for everyone. Some people have regular bowel movements daily while others have one every other day. Most of the time, constipation goes away on its own with or without over-the-counter medication. If you try home remedies or medication and do not get the relief you need, it may be time to see a GI specialist who can give a proper diagnosis and recommend effective treatment options.

Constipation is either acute or chronic. Acute constipation occurs occasionally. Chronic constipation is repeated episodes of constipation over a long period of time. Sometimes it can be dealt with on your own. But there are some instances when medical intervention is necessary.

Bloody Stool

For those who suffer from constipation, it’s common to strain too much and cause hemorrhoids. These small pockets of tissue may bleed a little bit. As a result, you may see small amounts of bright red blood in your stool. This is no cause for concern. However, if there are large amounts of bright red blood in your stool it constituted an emergency and needs immediate medical attention.

If your stool has dark blood in it, factors like taking iron supplements or eating licorice may be the culprit. Dark-colored blood indicates bleeding higher in the digestive tract. If you notice blood in your stool, it’s best to contact a GI specialist. Bleeding can be the result of bowel inflammation, a bleeding ulcer, a tumor, tissue damage in the intestines, or bowel cancer.

Constipation Accompanied by Intense Abdominal Pain

Some abdominal pain is to be expected when you are constipated. It can be caused by a build-up of gas or simply due to the need to have a bowel movement. However, if you experience constant, intense pain in your abdomen along with constipation, it can indicate a more serious condition. Speak to a GI specialist to rule out conditions requiring medical attention such as:

  • Perforated stomach or intestine
  • Appendicitis
  • Blood flow blockage to the intestine
  • Pancreatitis
  • An intestinal obstruction

Constipation Accompanied with Vomiting

If you are constipated and begin vomiting, you may be experiencing a fecal impaction. This often occurs after a long bout of constipation. A hard, dry stool lodges in the rectum and blocks other fecal material from passing. If you have a fecal impaction, you may experience pain and vomiting. This requires immediate medical attention. A disimpaction by a medical professional may be necessary. They will be able to remove the blockage From the rectum so that stool can pass.

Having Small, Infrequent Bowel Movements

Most medical professionals define constipation as having less than three bowel movements a week. Sometimes, having fewer bowel movements can also signal more serious conditions. If you are eating regularly without having bowel movements, stool becomes backed up quickly. Sometimes when stool backs up it can be due to an issue in the intestines like scar tissue or a tumor. These can leave very little room for stool to pass. These types of obstructions can occur at any area of the intestines and they are a medical emergency. When stool continues to back up, it can cause a rupture in the intestines which can be a life-threatening situation.

Do you have concerns about constipation?

If you or a loved one you care for has any of these symptoms, it’s best to see a medical professional right away. This allows you to rule out more serious conditions. Talk to a GI Specialist today about all of your concerns.





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