Chronic constipation is a common problem in Singapore. It is estimated that 80% of adults in Singapore suffer from constipation at some point in their lives. If the signs of constipation persist, as well as weight loss, it is highly recommended to see a doctor or a specialist for a proper evaluation for any underlying medical conditions. The doctor will also be able to recommend a suitable course of treatment with medication and laxatives, and advise the treatment cost involved.
Symptoms Of Constipation
Constipation can be referred to as having lesser than three bowel movements a week, while chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficulties in passing of stools that persists for several weeks or longer.
The symptoms of chronic constipation can include the following:
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Lumpy or hard stools
- Feeling of incomplete bowel emptying
- Feeling of a blockage in your rectum
- Requiring help to empty your rectum, like pressing on your abdomen using your hand and removing the stool from your rectum using a finger.
If you have experienced two or more of these symptoms for the last three months, your constipation may be considered chronic.
Causes Of Constipation
There are many possible causes to constipation, which affects the stool to move too slowly through the digestive tract and it cannot be eliminated effectively from the rectum, causing it to become dry and hard.
Possible causes include:
- Blockages in the colon or rectum – this condition can be caused by bowel obstruction, anal fissures, colon and rectal cancer, and narrowing of the colon (bowel stricture)
- Problems with the pelvic muscles – weakened pelvic muscles and the inability to relax the pelvic muscles can make having a bowel movement difficult
- Neurological problems around the colon and rectum – Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, autonomic neuropathy and stroke can affect the contract and movement of stool through the intestines
- When hormones in the body are affected – hormones aid in the balance of fluids in the body. People with diabetes, overactive parathyroid gland or are pregnant can experience constipation easily.
Other risk factors can also increase the risk of chronic constipation such as older age, getting little or no physical activity, low-fiber diet, being dehydrated, and taking certain medications.
Chronic constipation can frequently improve with simple lifestyle measures. These include:
- Having regular bowel habits, such as going to the toilet at the same time each morning, and avoid ignoring the urge to pass motion or holding your stool in for too long
- Increasing fluid intake to at least 8 cups daily. More fluid should be taken if the weather is hot, or if exercising
- Increasing dietary fibre, such as taking more fruits and vegetables
- Exercising regularly
Seeing A Doctor For Constipation
Visit a clinic and consult with a doctor if you experience any persistent constipation symptoms or concerning health issues. Chronic constipation can develop complications such as anal fissure, haemorrhoids and fecal impaction, hence sometimes a specialist consultation may be needed.
The doctor will check on your medical and family history as well as conduct a physical exam or tests to diagnose and find the cause of your constipation. Share in detail regarding your symptoms and lifestyle routine so he will have a better understanding. Lab tests such as blood test and stool test, imaging scan test, colon transit studies and endoscopy, available at gutCARE in Singapore, may be carried out to look for signs of certain conditions and diseases behind your constipation. These will be performed by a specialist in gastroenterology. In Singapore, most clinics and government hospitals offer affordable care. Most of the medical costs are often fully covered by medical insurance.