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What causes Constipation in Adults?

Constipation is a condition that most, if not all, adults will experience at some point. It occurs when you would have trouble with your bowel movements; either from the movement being strenuous or you find yourself going to the toilet a lot less than usual.

While it usually is not something to be worried about, and the frequency of bowel movements varies widely from person to person, some adults can find themselves with what would be deemed more serious bouts of constipation.

Understanding what the symptoms are, why it could be frequent, and what solutions adults with constipation can receive, helps to demystify the condition.

Which Symptoms are General in Adults with Constipation?

An adult with constipation may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Not being able to pass stool without pressing on your abdomen or using your finger to complete the movement.
  • The sensation that you haven’t finished after going to the toilet.
  • Going to the toilet much less (as little as three times a week).
  • Your stool being hard or lumpy.
  • Finding it hard to pass stools.

Are there Common Causes Adults Should be able to Identify?

Traits to pick up on if you start having difficulty going to the bathroom include:

  • Pain, discomfort, or an uneasy feeling from the muscles used when going to the toilet.
  • Bowel movements feeling very slow.
  • Blockages in the rectum.

Some existing illnesses and conditions can act as a cause or a contributing factor too. The most common would be anal fissures, bowel obstructions, rectocele (in females), and if someone has some form of cancer in the digestive system (colon, rectal, etc.).

What Unlikely Factors Could Cause Constipation?

With many different symptoms, constipation shouldn’t be seen as a very worrying condition to have. Pregnancy, diabetes, and an overactive thyroid are just some of the many different reasons a person could be constipated.

Some risk factors are easily identifiable, such as age, dehydration, lack of fibre in the diet, and certain medicines which have side-effects on the digestive system.

What Problems Can Constipation Cause?

Constipation is usually a short-term condition, and someone would expect it to quell after a short period. Some problems can prolong constipation, like fissures, faecal impactions, and haemorrhoids.

With regards to haemorrhoids, because they cause swelling in veins around the anus, it’s a very common way for adults to feel constipated.

How is Constipation Diagnosed?

When someone thinks they are constipated, and it doesn’t seem to go away or improve after a few days, it is advisable to visit a GP. A doctor may carry out one or more tests, which could include:

(Any relevant information on how consultants at OW would typically diagnose a patient could ideally be included here.)

  • A physical examination of the area.
  • A Colonoscopy.
  • Blood tests.
  • An X-Ray.

If a doctor thinks it warrants further investigation, a patient will be referred to a specialist, like those we have here at OneWelbeck.

How Is Constipation Treated?

It is common for a person to have to make some lifestyle changes to see if the condition settles down over time. This would involve eating more fibre-rich foods, drinking more water, getting more exercise, and giving yourself more time in the bathroom.

A patient may also be prescribed laxatives and stimulants to help encourage a bowel movement.

In some rare cases, a patient may find they need to have surgery if there is a blockage in their colon. However, non-invasive methods, particularly positive lifestyle changes, are usually enough to combat constipation.

Talk to OneWelbeck Today

If you, or someone you know, is significantly affected by constipation and would prefer to seek help and advice from a specialist, you can get in touch directly with the team at OneWelbeck by filling out our online form to make an appointment.

You can also get in touch by phone by calling us at 0203 653 2004.