Being constipated is not a pleasant feeling. However, if you’re experiencing it you’re not alone. It’s estimated that one in five Australians are constipated at any given time.
For most people, constipation is a minor inconvenience. It is often a result of dietary changes, intensive exercise, or hot weather. All of these things can cause you to become partially dehydrated. The reduced level of water in your body is likely to cause hard stools that are difficult to pass. It usually clears up when you rehydrate.
However, if you’re constipated for an extended period, you may need to see a colorectal surgeon, it can cause serious issues.
The Symptoms Of Constipation
You are probably already aware of what constipation is:
- Hard stools
- Difficult to pass stools, usually done three times a week or less
- Physical strain to push stools out
- Can’t empty rectum properly
It’s worth noting that constipation is more common in women than men but can happen at any age.
Complications If Constipation Is Left Untreated
Constipation is often relieved with the help of laxatives and taking a little more time when using the toilet. Simply calming your mind can help your body to relax and allow the stools out.
These are instant actions you can take and should resolve the issue. If it’s an occasional issue you may want to look at lifestyle changes, specifically your diet and increasing your water intake. IF you continue to experience regular constipation a check-up from your doctor will help verify if there are any underlying issues.
The important thing is that you get medical treatment and help. If you don’t, untreated constipation can lead to:
Hemorrhoids happen when the veins in your rectum swell. They are a common side effect of straining too much on the toilet. They can be inside or outside your rectum, the exterior version is likely to be itchy and painful. Both internal and external hemorrhoids will bleed but they can disappear by themselves, providing you stop straining.
- Anal Fissures
An anal fissure is effectively a tear in your colon, usually close to the wall of the anus. You will experience a sharp pain when using the toilet and it may feel like it’s burning for a few minutes or even several hours after you’ve passed your feces. It’s common to see blood on your toilet paper.
Again, this is caused by the strain of passing hard stools.
- Fecal Impaction
This is the term for when a dry stool becomes trapped in your rectum. It’s a common side effect of untreated constipation. The dry stool has to be removed manually by the doctor. If it’s not removed you will be unable to pass stools. This can cause a build-up of bad bacteria in your body and potentially allow toxins to infiltrate your body and potentially make you seriously ill.
- Rectal Prolapse
This is the name for when part of your large intestine slips through your anus. It’s caused when the muscles that hold it in place are weakened, often a result of excessive straining. It won’t heal itself, surgery is usually the only option to deal with rectal prolapse.
Other issues can happen if you are constipated for too long. That’s why it’s essential you get a professional medical opinion as quickly as possible.