Author: Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.
Constipation is a common IBS symptom and can go hand-in-hand with other symptoms such as diarrhea. At the IBS Treatment Center, IBS-C (IBS with Constipation) is one of many forms of IBS that we have a great track record of treating.
Here’s what you need to know about constipation, which is more complex than you may suspect.
Constipation, like diarrhea, comes in a variety of forms. Most people associate constipation with very hard stools and infrequent or irregular bowel movements. However, constipation can strike in many ways. You can have constipation every day or you can have well formed bowel movements that only occur every few days.
Constipation can also manifest as several bowel movements per day that feel incomplete. The common theme with all of the these is that the bowel movement is either not easy to pass or not regular. Normal bowel movements are called “unremarkable,” because they are easy to pass and very regular. But constipation is exemplified by problematic movements.
Constipation and discomfort
The most common form of constipation comes with infrequent bowel movements once every 2-3 days. Normal is at least one well-formed and easy-to-pass bowel movement daily. Some with extreme constipation may only have a bowel movement every 1-3 weeks. It sounds unbelievable, but if this happens to you, you are not alone.
This extreme is of course usually very uncomfortable. But constipation can be painful or not, though it often comes with a sense of fullness and bloating. In some cases, it can be very painful and may cause anal fissures due to the difficulty in passing large hard stools.
Some forms of constipation occur with daily or even with several bowel movements per day. They may be very hard, or very soft stools often described as like mud or peanut butter, very sticky and difficult to pass. This may leave you feeling the bowel movement was incomplete, and therefore needing to have several bowel movements within two or three hours.
Treating the symptoms doesn’t treat the disease
It’s important to know that if you must take something to create a bowel movement, whether it’s fiber, milk of magnesia, a laxative, or some other digestive aid, you’re only managing the problem. This doesn’t cure constipation and, as soon as you stop taking those things, it will come right back.
You may not know this, but constipation is a disorder of the digestive tract that usually means that you are poorly absorbing your nutrients. This may impact not only your digestive tract, but your overall health. Constipation is also a sign that your waste disposal system is backed up and that the toxic products that your body should expel are still around.
Constipation is another way that your body is telling you that your digestive system is not working nearly as well as it should and that your health is less than optimal in more ways than you know. It’s not just an issue of discomfort.
Treat the disease not the symptoms
People with IBS may or may not have constipation, but people who experience chronic constipation almost always have IBS. Even if your constipation is manageable, you should address the root cause rather than continuing to treat only the symptoms.
Constipation is solvable, but the longer it goes on, the more it can stretch your colon which makes it much more difficult to treat. Your PCP or gastroenterologist may not have the answers you need, but don’t give up – and don’t become reliant on aids for treating constipation. These are not meant for long term use.
Come to the IBS Treatment Center to see a specialist who focuses on treating IBS with constipation. We help patients who’ve already been to many other doctors and not been helped. Our goal is to help you get your life back, and get your digestive tract functioning normally again. You don’t have to live with this kind of discomfort.
Call (888) 546-6283 to schedule a consultation with the IBS Treatment Center in our Seattle or Los Angeles offices. Patients come to us from all across the US and the globe because of our impressive track record and life-changing treatments to deal with IBS.