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1. What are the symptoms of constipation?
Constipation is a symptom of some underlying disease in which the stool may pass fewer than three times in a week. You may also experience the following:
- Hard and dry stools
- Lumpy stools
- Pain while passing stools
- A feeling that no stool has passed
2. What are the causes of constipation?
The common causes of constipation include:
- Lack of exercise
- Medicines, such as iron supplements and antidepressants
- Long-term use of laxatives
- Changes in the routine
- Less intake of fibre and fluid in the diet
- Ignoring the urge to defecate
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Other causes, such as Parkinson's disease, stroke and spinal cord injury
3. Who are at a higher risk of getting constipation?
Some individuals are more prone to face constipation than others.
- Pregnant women
- Women post-delivery
- Individuals on certain medicines
- Individuals with less fibre intake
- Individuals with certain diseases, such as functional gastrointestinal disorders
4. How is the underlying cause of constipation diagnosed?
The medical and family history, physical examination and lab tests are used to diagnose the cause. Physical examination includes checking the blood pressure, rectal examination, checking for swelling or pain, and hydration status. If the cause is still not clear, an x-ray, ultrasound, colonoscopy might be ordered by the doctor.
5. What are the complications of long-term constipation?
Those with short-term constipation do not experience complications. Long-term constipation may lead to:
- Piles, swelling in the anus and lower rectum.
- Rectal prolapse, the drop of the rectum from its normal position.
- Faecal impaction, the compaction of the hard, dry stool in the intestine.
- Anal fissures, a minor tear in the anus or rectum leading to pain, itching and bleeding.