Chronic constipation is a state of difficulty in moving feces in the rectum and the improbability of expelling them, despite straining.
A diagnosis of chronic constipation can be made if:
- stool frequency becomes less than 3 times a week;
- defecation requires strain;
- hard or lumpy stools;
- there is a feeling of incomplete emptying of the intestine.
Constipation is caused by a violation of the processes of formation and movement of feces through the intestines. The main reasons for this are disorders of the motor activity (motility) of the intestinal muscles, a weakening of the urge to defecate, changes in the structure of the intestine or the organs closest to it that prevent the normal movement of the contents, a discrepancy between the capacity of the large intestine and the volume of intestinal contents.
Symptoms of constipation are very diverse and largely depend on the nature of the disease that caused them. In some cases, constipation is the only complaint, in others, patients pay attention to other ailments.
The frequency of bowel movements can be different: from once every 2-3 days to once a week or less. The feces are traditionally compacted, dry, dry, dark balls or lumps, reminiscent of sheep; sometimes the feces can be bean-shaped, ribbon-like, cord-like.
In some patients, the so-called constipating diarrhea is observed, when, with a long delay in bowel emptying, the feces are liquefied with mucus, which is formed as a result of irritation of the intestinal wall.
Sometimes patients are disturbed by pain and a feeling of fullness in the abdomen; relief begins after defecation or passing flatus.
A rather painful symptom can be bloating (flatulence), which is due to the slow movement of feces through the colon and increased gas formation due to the activity of bacteria in the intestine. Bloating, in addition to the actual intestinal symptoms, may be accompanied by reflex reactions of other organs: pain in the heart, palpitations, etc.
When complaining of constipation, it is very important to correctly prescribe the necessary diagnostic studies, and as a result, get a complete picture of the causes of the disease. Only in this case, the doctor will be able to prescribe the correct and effective course of treatment.
Special research methods that allow assessing the motor-evacuation function of the large intestine, the microbial spectrum or the content of volatile fatty acids (an integral indicator of microbial cenosis), the state of the obturator apparatus of the rectum, the function of other organs and sections of the gastrointestinal tract, the endocrine apparatus, the autonomic nervous system ( for women, an examination by a gynecologist is mandatory in order to determine the position of the uterus).
The problem of treating chronic constipation requires mandatory consultation with a specialist.
Long-term, independent use of laxatives without knowledge of their mechanism of action, indications and contraindications, in most cases gives the opposite result:
- constipation becomes more persistent and severe;
- significantly reduced intestinal motility, its motor activity;
- the dose of a laxative at first is constantly growing, then its action becomes ineffective;
- there are problems associated with a violation of the metabolic process in the body.
Thus, the problem of treating chronic constipation requires the most serious approach, both on the part of the patient and the attending physician.