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Get Up and Go: Getting Help With Your Constipation

Posted 3/18/2016 by UHBlog

Learn how to recognize and treat constipation. Ask us.

Get Up and Go: Getting Help With Your Constipation

If your get up and go has got up and gone, chances are you are constipated.

“Almost everyone will suffer from irregular bowel movements at some point in their lives, especially seniors,” says gastroenterologist Jason de Roulet, MD. “Poor diet and an inactive lifestyle are the biggest culprits. Common medications like narcotics and antidepressants could also cause irregularity--and the more medications you take, the higher your risk of developing constipation.”

Although being constipated is usually not serious, it's important to know how it is medically defined in order to take care of business. Dr. de Roulet describes constipation as having two or more of the following conditions:

  • Straining when having a bowel movement
  • Fewer than three bowel movements per week on a regular basis
  • Difficulty passing stools most of the time
  • Stools that are lumpy, hard or dry
  • A feeling that your bowels are being blocked or not fully emptied

“There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to irregularity,” he says. “Bowel movement frequency varies from person to person. Some people move their bowels three times a day and others three times a week. But going less frequently means a person may be constipated and should take action.”

According to Dr. de Roulet, the best way to treat constipation is by

  • Increasing your daily fiber intake, which includes fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, cereals, wheat bran and/or over-the-counter fiber supplements
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Exercising regularly

Sometimes constipation is more than just a bloated, uncomfortable feeling and can be a red flag for something serious. It's important to see a gastroenterologist if you notice conditions such as:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Severe abdominal pains
  • Constipation that does not improve with lifestyle changes
  • Weight loss associated with constipation

“Constipation is a symptom, not a disease," says Dr. de Roulet. "But sudden changes in bowel habits can be warning signs indicating an intestinal blockage, or even colon cancer. That’s why it is important to see a gastroenterologist who can identify any serious problems that may require immediate care.”

Jason de Roulet, MD is gastroenterologist at University Hospitals with offices at Bainbridge Health Center, the Bedford and Richmond Campuses, Independence Health Center and University Suburban Health Center in South Euclid, Ohio. You can Request an Appointment with Dr. de Roulet or any other doctor online.

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