1. What are the symptoms of constipation?
Symptoms of constipation are: (1) fewer than three stools in a week, (2) difficulty to have bowel movement, (3) hard stool, (4) feeling of something in the rectum even after having bowel movement, and (5) a blockage-like feeling in rectum making it difficult to empty it.
2. What are the causes of constipation?
The common causes of constipation are poor bowel habits, lack of fibre in the diet, low fluid intake, painkillers, irregular eating habits, and changes in daily lifestyle. Prolonged use of laxatives and iron supplements can also cause constipation. Stroke, spinal cord injury and Parkinson's disease can also cause constipation.
3. Who are at a higher risk of getting constipation?
Constipation can affect anyone, but there is a higher risk in females during pregnancy, just after delivery or after having surgery, older people (above 65 years), people with unhealthy eating habits including excess junk food and less fibre and low income.
4. How is the underlying cause of constipation diagnosed?
Underlying cause of chronic constipation can be detected by general physical, rectal and colon examination, and blood tests for low thyroid and high calcium levels. X-ray to check intestinal blockage, evaluation of anal sphincter muscle functioning and speed (anorectal manometry), defecation muscles using MRI, and X-ray of rectum may also be needed in severe cases.
5. What are the complications of long-term constipation?
Complications with long-term constipation are, (1) hemorrhoids (swelling and inflammation in veins surrounding rectum which may cause pain and bleeding while passing stool, (2) anal fissure (tears) casing itchiness and pain, (3) inability to pass hardened and packed stool (faecal impaction), (4) rectal prolapse (part of rectum sticks out of anus).