Most people have a normal bowel movement anywhere from three times a day to three times a week. However, frequent constipation is a common problem that affects about 4 million Americans.
If you suffer from constipation, you need to know when it should be addressed. If it goes ignored, it could cause serious health issues.
At Imperial Digestive Health Specialists, PLLC in Katy, Texas, we’re constipation specialists who understand how uncomfortable this condition can make you feel. But we also know what can happen if you don’t acknowledge certain signs that indicate you need medical care.
Dr. Ewelukwa, our expert board-certified physician, knows how to determine if you need treatment for your constipation. In some cases, over-the-counter laxatives can help you eliminate waste. But if you have chronic constipation or certain warning signs that we’ll talk about here, your condition might call for medical intervention or even an emergency situation that requires care.
Understanding mild constipation
Mild constipation is different from severe constipation. Your symptoms might include:
- Hard, dry, or lumpy stools
- Pain or difficulty when pushing out a bowel movement
- Only having three or less bowel movements in a week
- Inability to eliminate all of your waste
This type of constipation can typically be managed with over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes that include improving your diet and daily water intake.
Knowing the warning signs of severe constipation
Severe constipation may constitute an emergency. Here are the signs that may require immediate medical attention:
1. Very dark or bloody stool
Extremely dark stool can actually mean you have blood in your stool. If you have blood in your upper digestive tract, it loses oxygen as it travels down and becomes darker in color. If the blood is bright red, you could be bleeding in your lower digestive tract.
Blood in your stool can happen for several different reasons, including a tear in your intestines, bowel inflammation, an ulcer, a tumor, or cancer.
2. Severe abdominal pain
When you have severe abdominal pain, you may need medical attention right away. You could be suffering from appendicitis, diverticulitis, or a strangulated hernia. Don’t delay. Call 911 immediately.
3. Vomit that smells like stool
If you throw up a dark brown or purple-ish like substance that has the odor of stool, you could have a bowel obstruction. This is a medical emergency where you need to have the contents of your stomach emptied. Call 911 immediately.
Other signs include vomiting bile that’s greenish-yellow, having less than three bowel movements a week, and experiencing fecal impaction.
The bottom line — severe constipation along with these symptoms is telling you that something isn’t right. Make an appointment with our team right away if you find familiarity with any of the signs listed above. However, if you experience severe pain in any way, call 911 immediately.
Treatment for constipation
With at least 2.5 million people visiting the doctor annually for constipation, Dr. Ewelukwa and our team know how to address this common gastrointestinal complaint. We first aim to identify the root cause of your issues.
If your problem is strictly constipation, we can provide guidance on how to change your diet, adding plenty of fiber with fruits and vegetables and whole foods, and drinking plenty of water. You also need to start routine exercise. Physical movement can get your bowels moving.
Another treatment might be prescribed certain medications that can help eliminate your waste and keep you regular, as needed.
If you have concerns about constipation or experience any symptoms discussed in this blog, make an appointment with Dr. Ewelukwa as soon as possible. Just call us at 281-305-0423, text us at 832-639-5725, or click on this website to book online.