When Is Constipation A Concern?

As we stated in our Constipation and Stomach Pain article, constipation is not a problem – except for that day – if it is a temporary reaction to something.  Everyone has a day where they found themselves eating too much fast food on a weekend getaway or becoming dehydrated from exertion on a hot summer day and didn’t remember the water or there may even be the spiritual aspects including control and fear factors of constipation; the fright of letting go.

We are talking about ongoing constipation.  The kind that plagues you day after day and week after week, month after month.  This is the kind of constipation that leaves you in the bathroom in pain and for a long time every time.

It is time, my friend, to see a doctor.  You can see a naturopath, iridologist, allopath or kinesiologist.  All of these can help you to determine what the causes are and what to do about them.

Except in more extreme cases of underlying factors, constipation should be resolved with diet and lifestyle changes. Always address the reason not the symptom.  Constipation that cannot be treated with diet and lifestyle changes should be a concern.  If you have used a prescription and it does not help your doctor will send you to a specialist for other answers.

IBS causes both constipation and diarrhea and is treated differently by allopathic medicine but is still a reason for stomach pain.

The allopathic doctor is a mainstream doctor so be careful to read all of the fine print on any medication you will be “encouraged” to purchase.  Pharmaceutical medicine will work by forcing an action.  For diarrhea you would be given something to harden stools and for constipation something laxative like.  The problem with these “solutions” is that they will require more drugs down the road but will never deal with underlying issues and reasons.  Medications are made to deal with the symptoms which then present more symptoms, more drugs etc.  Drugs like Amitiza (lubiprostone) may cause nausea, vomitting and diarrhea which will then lead to something for THAT.

Your doctor might also suggest Miralax which works by holding water in the bowel in an effort to “soak the stool” to soften it.  Again, the problem with this will be the need for yet another prescription to relieve the symptoms caused by water being “borrowed” from other parts of the body.  Basically, it is rehydrating one area of the body while dehydrating another.  Does this sound right?  You’ll soon be trading one pain in the stomach for another.

The one that no one wants to hear…

Cancer of colon has one of its marked symptoms as constipation. If you have constant nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, being extremely tired and or unexplained weight loss this should be something to have checked out sooner rather than later.  Heck, even without constipation these symptoms on a regular basis should be looked into.  They are markers for many types of cancer along with pain in the stomach for colon or stomach cancer and localized pain for other types.   That is another subject.

Constipation can lead to complications, such as hemorrhoids caused by extreme straining and pressure in the rectum and anus.  Hemorrhoids happen when the blood vessels are enlarged and the pressure of straining aggrevates the situation further.  Not so much pain in the stomach as a pain in the butt.  Please pardon the pun but who could resist?  Itching, bleeding and discomfort will usually accompany the hemorrhoids.  A change in diet will once again make a difference.  Probiotics help to restore and revitalize in order to help with the healing and inflammation as the rest of your GI system improves.

Another pain caused by constipation is fissures which are caused by the hard stools of constipation stretching the sphincters. Bleeding can occur for either of these reasons and appears as bright red streaks on the surface of the stool.  Fissures can be a one time occurrence and the bleeding disappear as fast as it showed up.   Fissures may also be quite painful and can aggravate the constipation that originally caused them.   The more often they happen the more affected your bowel will be.

Constipation over a period of time in very young children can result in fecal impactions and in older adults as well.  If there is a smell of fecal matter on the breath or your child has nausea or vomiting be sure to see your doctor right away.   For older adults due to weakness in the stomach, intestines, colon or bowel losing control of bowel movements might occur.    Liquid surrounding the stool that was trapped may also come out with the impaction.

Rectal prolapse occurs when the lining of the intestines actually pushes out from straining.  There is a lack of elasticity in the rectum and so the continual strain on this tissue weakens it and begins pushing it out with the stool.  As the healing process begins with good bacteria and a healthy diet, this will usually correct itself; IF caught early on before a lot of damage has been done.

With any constipation issues there may also be mucus in the stool which is a symptomatic response to inflammation somewhere in the line.  This is your body’s response to try and protect the tissue by producing mucus as a buffer.

See Natural Remedies for Constipation for more.