Constipation: Signs and Symptoms

This is a common condition many of us have experience, but most of us prefer not to talk about it. Our digestive system is a very accurate indicator of our health and is essential for helping us absorb nutrients from our diet and supporting our immune system.

What are some signs and symptoms of constipation?

  • Passing fewer than 3 stools per week
  • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Hard compact bowel moments
  • Feeling like you haven’t completely emptied your rectum
  • Feeling like there’s a blockage in your rectum
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Fatigue

What does a healthy bowel moment look like?

I often tell my patients it should be medium brown in colour and have the consistency of a ripe banana.  You should also be able to pass a bowel moment without any pain or straining.

Why does my doctor ask if there is undigested food, mucus or blood in my stool?

Your doctor asks these questions to gather more information about your digestive health. If there is any undigested food, this could indicate a deficiency in stomach acid or digestive enzymes. If there is mucus in your stool, this could indicate that there is inflammation in your digestive system. If there is blood in your stool, this needs to be investigated as there are many conditions which could cause this issue.

Constipation can be caused by a variety of different health issues or substances, so it’s important to have this investigated. The range of concerns/substances could include the following:

  • Not enough fiber in the diet
  • Inadequate fluid intake
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Anal fissures or Hemorrhoids
  • Medication
  • Food allergies/intolerances/sensitivities
  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel moment
  • IBS
  • Crohn’s/Colitis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • …And many others

Constipation is a condition that is treatable, however, it is important to find out what the underlying cause of your constipation could be. So if this is a current concern for you, please request that your health care practitioner investigate by conducting a physical exam and ordering lab tests.

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