Constipation Treatment in Alexandria, VA
What Is Constipation?
Constipation is a digestive system condition characterized by fewer than three bowel movements per week. When bowel movements do occur, they may be painful or difficult to pass and appear dry, hard, or small in size. While occasional constipation is common, constipation that persists for a period longer than three months is considered chronic and can interfere with daily functioning.
Constipation is also sometimes a sign of an underlying condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or hypothyroidism . Diagnosing and treating constipation early can prevent more serious ramifications from occurring, including bowel obstruction and hemorrhoids.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in Alexandria who specializes in constipation treatment, call (703) 822-5003 or contact Proactive Wellness Center online.
Causes of constipation can vary greatly, from a lack of fiber in your diet to colon cancer. In some cases, more than one factor can influence constipation's development. The most common cause of constipation is when waste products travel too slowly through your digestive tract, causing the stool to become hard, dry, or impacted. Other constipation causes include:
- Malfunction of muscles used in elimination, including pelvic muscles
- An underlying medical condition such as diabetes or hypothyroidism
- Gastrointestinal (GI) conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis
- Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease, and brain and spinal cord injuries
- Colon or rectal cancer
- Certain medications, including antacids, anticholinergics, and medication used to treat depression
- Eating disorders
- Low-fiber diet
Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of experiencing chronic constipation, including age, gender, lack of physical activity, and dehydration. Nutritional deficiencies—like vitamin B12 or magnesium—can also contribute to an increased risk.
The most frequently experienced constipation symptoms include:
- Having fewer than three stools in one week
- Experiencing pain or excessive strain when passing stools
- Hard stools
- Stools that emerge in small lumps
- Sensation of a blockage in your bowels preventing passage of stools
- Feeling like you cannot empty your bowels or rectum completely
- Needing manual assistance to empty your bowels (e.g., massaging your abdomen or inserting a finger into your rectum to remove feces)
If left untreated, chronic constipation can create long-term or severe complications, including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal impaction, and the protrusion of intestines from your anus (rectal prolapse).
Constipation Diagnosis & Treatment
Your medical history, together with a physical examination and a review of your symptoms, is usually sufficient for a constipation diagnosis, but diagnostic tests may be necessary if serious complications or an underlying condition are suspected. These can include blood tests, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, anorectal manometry, balloon expulsion test, colonic transit study, MRI, or X-ray.
The right constipation remedy for your unique needs is dependent on the underlying cause driving your impaired bowel movements, the severity of your symptoms, and the duration of your constipation. Some of the most common treatments used to bring about constipation relief include:
- Medications: Laxatives (short-term), stool softeners, lubricants, enemas, or suppositories
- Massage: Massaging your abdominal area to help move stool through
- Exercise: Daily exercise to increase intestinal muscle activity
- Diet: Increasing fiber levels in your diet through fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and increasing fluid intake
- Nutritional supplements: To correct nutritional deficiencies implicated in constipation
- Biofeedback: Therapy to retrain muscles which control bowel movements
In more severe cases of constipation, surgery may be necessary to remove fecal impactions or to repair damage to the digestive tract. You should never begin any treatment for chronic constipation without first consulting your healthcare provider. He or she can also recommend natural treatments to alleviate your symptoms of constipation.
If you are experiencing what you believe may be acute or chronic constipation, schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Alexandria who specializes in treating constipation. Call (703) 822-5003 or contact Proactive Wellness Center online.
Proactive Wellness Center
Address8229 Boone Blvd
Vienna, VA 22182
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm