Constipation – it’s a topic most shy away from, but it’s one that can greatly impact daily life, especially when it turns severe. 

The symptoms of severe constipation aren’t just the occasional bathroom woes. They signify a bigger issue, often leaving individuals uncomfortable, stressed, and searching for solutions. 

Recognizing the red flags is crucial, not only for immediate relief but also for long-term health. In this guide, we delve into the causes, dangers, and treatments, ensuring you’re well-equipped to manage and prevent these daunting digestive dilemmas.

What is Considered Severe Constipation?

We all have had those days – feeling a bit ‘blocked’ and wishing for some relief. But not all constipation is created equal. Understanding the distinctions can help guide treatment and provide clarity on when to sound the alarms:

Chronic constipation

A frequent visitor, chronic constipation is characterized by consistent difficulty in bowel movements over weeks. It’s not just about frequency, but also about the struggle. While it’s a prolonged issue, it might not always hit the highest intensity of discomfort.

Regular constipation

Think of regular constipation as the occasional uninvited guest. It’s not always there, but when it appears, it’s noticeable. This type comes and goes, possibly due to dietary changes, stress, or minor disruptions in routine.

Severe constipation

The real troublemaker, severe constipation, is when things escalate. This entails not only fewer bowel movements but also severe discomfort, bloating, and sometimes even abdominal pain. It’s when the body is sending a more urgent message, indicating a potential underlying issue or a situation that requires more prompt attention.

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Symptoms of Severe Constipation

That type of constipation doesn’t just pop out of the blue. It gives us signs, signals, and symptoms that our body isn’t performing its digestive dance quite right. Recognizing these can be the key to seeking timely solutions and avoiding long-term complications.

The most common symptoms of constipation

Navigating the realm of constipation can be tricky, but certain signs unmistakably point to its more severe form:

  • Infrequent bowel movements. Fewer than three times a week can be a sign.
  • Hard, dry stools. This can make the bowel movement process quite challenging.
  • Straining. Feeling the need to strain excessively during bowel movements.
  • Feeling of blockage. Even after going, you might feel like you haven’t fully passed the stools.
  • Swollen belly or abdominal pain. Often accompanied by bloating and discomfort.
  • Needing help. Feeling the need to manually assist the bowel movements.

The risks and dangers of infrequent bowel movements

Ignoring these symptoms isn’t just about discomfort; it could lead to dire consequences:

  • Rectal prolapse. When things get too strained, part of the rectum can stick out of the anus. It’s as unpleasant as it sounds.
  • Hemorrhoids. Those swollen blood vessels in the rectum? They’re due to chronic straining and muscle contractions during a bowel movement.
  • Fecal impaction. A hard lump of stool gets stuck and won’t exit is a result of long-term constipation. Ouch.
  • Digestive tract issues. Chronic constipation can result in a slew of digestive complications, affecting the stomach and intestines.
  • Anal fissures. Tiny tears in the skin around the anus.
  • Rectal bleeding. A symptom associated with the previously mentioned risk factors.

When to Seek Medical Help

Changes in bowel habits can be particularly alarming. Many often don’t realize that fewer than three times a week can be indicative of a deeper issue. Fecal impaction or constant pain might require imaging tests or bowel function tests like the colorectal transit study. The physical examination plays a critical role, especially if you’re losing weight or have a family history of gut-related issues. It’s always recommended to monitor following symptoms and consult family physicians if issues like stool constant pain persist.

While many symptoms can be alleviated with at-home remedies, some situations necessitate a more immediate and professional response. Let’s take a closer look.

When should I go to the ER for severe constipation? 

If you experience severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, or signs of an intestinal obstruction, like being unable to pass gas or stool, it’s time to rush. Also, if you notice blood in your stool, fecal impaction, or have consistent fever accompanying constipation, these are urgent signs that should be addressed immediately. 

It’s worth noting that your family and medical history play a pivotal role. If there’s a medical history of digestive tract disorders or specific medical conditions in the family, it’s crucial to be even more vigilant and reach out to a healthcare provider sooner.

What Causes Severe Constipation

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There’s often a concrete culprit behind the bowel movement discomfort. Here’s a closer look:

Medications causing constipation

Often, it’s the pills that keep us well in one area but trip us up in another. Certain medications that can lead to constipation include:

  • Opioids
  • Antidepressants
  • Some antacids
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Certain antipsychotics

Dietary and lifestyle causes

We’ve all heard it – you are what you eat. And when it comes to constipation, our diet can be a prime perpetrator. Consuming low-fiber foods, leaning too heavily on processed foods, or not drinking enough water can lead to serious blockages. An inactive lifestyle further adds to the woes.

Stress and mental health causes

Our minds and guts are intimately linked. Chronic stress and mental health challenges can throw our digestive system out of whack, emphasizing the deep connection between our emotional wellbeing and physical health.

How To Prevent Severe Constipation

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While these symptoms can be a pain (literally and figuratively), there are ways to keep them at bay. Preventing constipation consists of a combination of medication, diet, and lifestyle choices.

Dietary and lifestyle changes

If you’re looking for a way to prevent constipation, remember what our parents used to always say – we need our greens and grains! Some high-fiber foods for relief include:

  • Whole grains like oats and bran cereal
  • Fruits like pears, apples, and bananas
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots
  • Beans, lentils, and chickpeas

Combine these with regular exercise and an adequate water intake, and your digestive system will thank you.

Fiber supplements

Not everyone can get enough fiber from food alone. In such cases, fiber supplements can be a lifesaver. Psyllium husk, inulin, and methylcellulose are some supplements known to boost bowel movements and relieve symptoms. 

ColonBroom is one such supplement that’s designed to help get things moving in the digestive department, and it’s built around psyllium husk as a primary ingredient. Other than that, it’s a good way to ensure that a high-fiber diet becomes a part of your daily routine. 

Treating constipation with medicine

For some, over-the-counter solutions or prescription drugs are required to ensure regularity. Stool softeners, lubricants, bulking agents, and osmotic agents can be effective. However, always consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new medication.

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Severe Constipation: Key Takeaways

Navigating the realm of constipation goes beyond a mere inconvenience; it’s a tangible sign from our bodies that demands heed. Recognizing the symptoms and understanding various causes of constipation, from poor diet to mental stress, is the first step. Embracing a fiber-rich diet, staying physically active, and even integrating supplements like ColonBroom can offer substantial relief. 

Remember, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional if those troublesome signs linger. Our gut’s health is often a reflection of our holistic well-being. So, tune into its cues, make well-informed choices, and always prioritize your health.


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