ABC Medical Center > Constipation

What is Constipation?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition in which the number of bowel movements decreases considerably, making the stool dry, hard, difficult to evacuate, and requiring a lot of effort to get out, which causes discomfort and pain. It appears when the waste that is formed after digesting food moves slowly through the digestive tract. Having a bowel movement only three times a week is considered constipation.

There are several causes for being constipated, but the most common are:

  • Laxative abuse.
  • Changes in daily routine.
  • Holding back the urge to evacuate. 
  • Being dehydrated or not drinking enough fluids. 
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Low fiber diet.
  • Mental or eating disorders. 
  • Having diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
  • Problems with the colon and rectum.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Intestinal obstruction.
  • Intake of some drugs.

Signs and symptoms Constipation

In addition to not being able to evacuate, constipation can have the following symptoms:

  • Dry and hard stools.
  • Great efforts to evacuate.
  • Confusion.
  • Difficulty urinating.
  • Pain and cramps.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Lack of appetite.

This condition can sometimes be a manifestation of a more serious underlying disease, so if you have these symptoms regularly it is important that you see a specialist.

Potential risks:

  • Anal tear.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Intestine protruding through the anus. 
  • Fecal impaction.

Diagnosis and treatment Constipation

After analyzing your symptoms, medical history, and performing a physical examination, your doctor will order a series of tests to corroborate the diagnosis and find out the causes of constipation, including:

  • Blood tests: rule out the presence of hypothyroidism.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: examines the rectum and colon.
  • Colonoscopy: assesses the entire colon.
  • Anorectal manometry: checks how well the rectal muscles work.
  • Balloon ejection: observes and records the time it takes for your rectum to propel a water balloon out.
  • Colonic transit: it observes, through a digital camera, how food moves through your colon identifying any functional problem. 
  • Defecography: evaluates the functions and condition of the muscles.

Treatment for constipation involves making significant dietary and lifestyle changes to speed the movement of stool through the intestines, including drinking more fluids, taking fiber supplements, and using laxatives, enemas, or rectal suppositories. 

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • medlineplus.gov
  • msdmanuals.com
  • niddk.nih.gov
  • medigraphic.com
  • León QS, Parada PK, Otoya CF. Constipación funcional en la edad pediátrica: una revisión bibliográfica. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2021;6(04):1-10.
  • Zeledón CN, Serrano SJA, Fernández AS. Síndrome intestino irritable. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2021;6(02):1-13.
  • Rockbrand CLP, Rojas CHV, Caro PV, et al. Manejo quirúrgico del prolapso rectal: una revisión de la literatura. Rev Clin Esc Med. 2019;9(6):11-20.
  • Daza CW, Dadán S, Higuera CM. Motivo de consulta y manifestaciones gastrointestinales en pacientes pediátricos con sobrepeso y obesidad en Colombia. Rev Cubana Pediatr. 2018;90(4):.

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    The dissemination of the content of this material is for informational purposes only and does not replace, under any circumstance or condition, a consultation with a specialist doctor, for which the ABC Medical Center is not responsible for the different use that may be given to it. If you require more information related to the subject, we suggest you contact the specialist doctor you trust directly.