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  • Constipation


    Constipation is a common digestive issue characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stools. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including changes in diet or routine, insufficient fiber intake, inadequate hydration, lack of physical activity, certain medications, and underlying health conditions.

    In most cases, constipation is a temporary problem that can be relieved through simple lifestyle changes. These may include:

    1. Increasing fiber intake: Consuming more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can add bulk to the stool and facilitate bowel movements.

    2. Staying hydrated: Drinking an adequate amount of water helps soften the stool and promote regular bowel movements.

    3. Exercising regularly: Engaging in physical activity can stimulate the muscles in the intestines, aiding in proper digestion and bowel function.

    4. Establishing a regular bathroom routine: Creating a consistent schedule for bowel movements can train your body to have regularity.

    5. Avoiding delaying or ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement: Ignoring the urge to pass stool can worsen constipation over time.

    While most cases of constipation can be managed at home, there are situations when it is advisable to seek medical attention. You should contact your doctor if you experience the following:

    1. Severe pain or discomfort in the abdomen: This could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

    2. Blood in the stool: Blood in the stool should always be evaluated by a healthcare professional to determine the cause.

    3. Persistent constipation lasting longer than three weeks: If your constipation does not improve with home remedies or persists for an extended period, it's recommended to consult a doctor for further evaluation.

    Remember, it's always best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and personalized advice regarding your specific situation.



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    <p><a href="">Family Physician,</a> discusses diagnosing and treating constipation.</p>

    Family Physician, discusses diagnosing and treating constipation.

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    <p><a href="">Gastroenterologist,</a> BSc, MD, FRCPC, discusses constipation.</p>

    Gastroenterologist, BSc, MD, FRCPC, discusses constipation.

  • Diagnosing and Treating Constipation

    Chronic constipation is a significant problem that can have a profound impact on a person's quality of life. It can cause discomfort, pain, and a range of emotional responses such as frustration, anxiety, embarrassment, and stress, as you mentioned. Addressing this issue with a family doctor is crucial in order to find relief and improve overall well-being.

    It is understandable that patients may feel embarrassed or hesitant to discuss constipation with their doctor. However, it's important to remember that healthcare professionals are trained to handle these types of issues with sensitivity and understanding. They are there to help and provide appropriate guidance and treatment options.

    When discussing chronic constipation with your family doctor, it may be helpful to prepare for the conversation in advance. You can jot down any relevant symptoms, their duration, and any lifestyle factors that may be contributing to the problem. This can help you provide a clear and concise overview of your situation during the appointment.

    Your doctor may ask questions about your diet, exercise habits, medications, and medical history. They may also perform a physical examination to evaluate your condition further. Based on this assessment, your doctor can provide recommendations for lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and possibly prescribe medications or refer you to a specialist if necessary.

    Remember, open communication with your family doctor is crucial to addressing chronic constipation effectively. They are there to provide the necessary support, treatment options, and resources to help you manage and overcome this condition.



    As patients and as doctors, we can often define the normal spectrum of normal bowel movements. Many times, we think normal is three spontaneous, complete bowel movements per week. But according to the American College of Gastroenterology, chronic constipation is defined as unsatisfactory defecation characterized by infrequent stools, difficult passage of stools, or both.

    Patients often think about difficult bowel movements as being straining, having hard, lumpy bowel movements. Trying very hard or having a difficult time passing the bowel movement and also spending an exorbitant amount of time trying to have a bowel movement. Local Nutritionist 

    When you see your family doctor and talk about chronic constipation, it’s important that you don’t feel shy or embarrassed. It’s important that you bring up your history, as your family doctor will do their best to find out what’s going on.

    When you see your family doctor, what they’ll do is talk to you about your history. What medical conditions you have, what medications you’re taking that can affect you. They are going to look for red flags or danger signs. The red flags can include weight loss, anemia, pain, problems with blood in the stool, or even new symptomatology that occurs in patients over 50 years of age.

    These are all red flags that your family doctor will be listening to. During the visit, they’ll ask you about your family history of colon cancer or any inflammatory bowel diseases. During your visit, there may be a physical exam examining the abdomen or doing a rectal exam and they will offer you some tests. These tests will include blood tests to check for anemia, your thyroid, but also may include a referral for colonoscopy if there is a concern. 

    Often seeing a local family physician for a referral to a psychiatristpsychologist, or counselor in conjunction with a registered dietitian is a great option to take control of this condition. Smart Food Now and exercise are also optimal for overall health.    

    It’s important when you speak to your family doctor about treatment options for chronic constipation that they provide education about fluid and fiber. It has to be adequately combined with exercise to allow the body to deal with this naturally. Luckily, we have many over-the-counter products that can help with chronic constipation. Local Registered Dietician 

    If there’s an adequate trial, and if you’ve tried your best as a patient and it’s not working, don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor because besides over-the-counters, there are prescription medications – prokinetic agents that can help you. It’s important you speak to your family doctor about treatment options for chronic constipation. Local Registered Dietitian. 

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