Explaining chronic constipation
A lot of people get constipated sometimes
That's right. Constipation happens and it can happen occasionally. But when it's ongoing, or "chronic," it may be a medical condition called chronic constipation.
Exercising and changing your diet can help with constipation. You may have even tried over-the-counter and prescription medications. If your symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare provider.
Know the facts about bowel movements
Being "regular" is different for everyone. For some, it may mean going 3 times a week or 3 times a day. And for others, it may mean going every day. That's important to know. There's no perfect number for bowel movements. Everyone's body is different. But, if you go less than 3 times a week for 3 months or more, that may be a symptom of chronic constipation.
Your digestive system
The only part of the digestive process you control is what you eat and drink. The rest happens naturally. Digestion of food and eventually expelling waste takes between 24 and 48 hours. The digestion process is about breaking down food and drink into small nutrients that your body uses for nourishment.
The digestive system is a series of organs that are joined from the mouth to the anus. Each of these organs contains muscles that allow food and liquid to move through your system. Movement through the esophagus, stomach, and intestine is called peristalsis. Peristalsis starts as soon as you swallow food.
Nutrients from the food you eat are eventually absorbed by your small intestine, and they're transported all over your body. What remains is mostly fluid and waste, and it's pushed toward your colon.
Expelling food waste
Your colon works to expel waste by both muscle contraction and absorbing fluid as stool is pushed toward the rectum. Keeping these fluids in balance is key. That way, waste is formed, but soft enough to expel.
The form of stool — whether it's hard or soft — is also determined by the pace at which stool moves through the colon.
If your colon absorbs too much water or the muscle contractions are slow, stool can get hard and dry. And if it's too difficult to expel, you may have constipation.
Chronic constipation may affect your lifestyle
If you have chronic constipation, you know what others may not. It's about more than not being "regular". It can affect your daily activities. You may plan where you go around the bathrooms available.
Get your helpful Appointment Kit to bring with you to your next appointment.