Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County
Gastroenterologists located in Irvine, CA & Other Orange County Locations
Constipation can strike every now and then and usually resolves on its own, but if it’s chronic, you may need intervention from the specialists at Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County. The team of expert gastroenterologists at offices in Irvine, Huntington Beach, Tustin, Foothill Ranch, and Mission Viejo, California, evaluates your condition to be sure your constipation isn’t a sign of an underlying problem. The doctors can also offer you quick relief from constipation to relieve your discomfort. Call today for an appointment or use the online booking tool.
How do I know my bowel movements are normal?
Bowel habits vary from person to person. It’s normal to have a bowel movement as few as three times a week or as frequent as three times per day. Consistency is what’s key. If your frequency stays generally the same, that’s a normal bowel pattern for you.
Many people believe you should have a bowel movement every day to be healthy. This isn’t true, but it is true that if stool stays in the large intestine too long, it can harden and become more difficult to pass.
When is constipation diagnosed?
Constipation is characterized by difficulty passing stools. You may also experience:
- Having fewer than three bowel movements a week
- Stool that is painful to pass
- Passing hard or lumpy stools
- Straining to have a bowel movement
- Feeling like all the stool wasn’t eliminated
- Feeling like your rectum is blocked
- Needing help to empty your rectum
If two or more of these symptoms persist for three months or longer, you have chronic constipation.
What causes constipation?
Constipation can result from a number of colon and rectal conditions. Issues such as a rectocele, diverticulitis, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease may be to blame.
Constipation can also be caused by:
- A low-fiber diet
- A bowel obstruction
- Iron supplements
- Nerve damage or muscle dysfunction
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Metabolic conditions (thyroid disease)
- Certain medications (especially narcotics)
Constipation can also result if you have a narrowed colon due to tumors, scar tissue, polyps, or inflammation, as these problems may prevent stool movement by narrowing the intestine.
When should I see a doctor for constipation?
When constipation lasts longer than a few days, schedule an exam with the doctors at Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County. You need immediate medical care if you have constipation together with any of the following symptoms.
- Bleeding from your rectum
- Constant abdominal pain
- Inability to pass gas
- Lower back pain
These symptoms may indicate a serious condition in your digestive tract.
How is constipation treated?
The doctors develop a personalized treatment based on the severity of your constipation and the underlying cause. The immediate discomfort of constipation can be reduced with:
- Dietary changes (increasing fiber and fluids)
- Bowel training
- Fiber supplements
- Stool softeners
- Osmotic agents
If these more conservative treatments aren’t helpful, the doctors may offer prescription medications to help resolve constipation.
If you have chronic constipation, call Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County or schedule an appointment online today.
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