What are the Symptoms of Constipation?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Constipation is essentially defined by its symptoms, and most especially by the fact that people have fewer than three bowel movements in a week, for more than one week. It’s also the case that the symptoms of constipation can be symptomatic of other illnesses and problems, so ongoing cases of constipation need medical diagnosis and supervision.

Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.
Dietary fiber, like that found in beans, can help with constipation.

The first of the symptoms of constipation is reduction in frequency of bowel movements where people usually have no more than three in a week. It is perfectly healthy to have four or five movements in a week, and people who don’t have a daily movement usually aren’t considered constipated. There can be other signs the bowels are not working normally that also can indicate an ongoing issue.

Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.
Two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of honey mixed into a glass of water can help to relieve constipation.

Some of the other symptoms of constipation include having to strain or push hard to have a bowel movement. Typically, stool should pass fairly easily and overstraining may result in complications like hemorrhoids. When a person is constipated, the stool can also feel very hard or difficult to pass, and sometimes a tiny bit of blood is present on toilet tissue when the anus is wiped because a hard stool has damaged the delicate anal tissue. A very tiny amount of blood, such as drop or two, usually isn’t need for concern, but significant or frequent bleeding on tissue or in the toilet needs medical attention.

Laxatives can help relieve constipation.
Laxatives can help relieve constipation.

Many people with symptoms of constipation note a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen and sometimes people will have mild stomachaches. There can also be a sense that a bowel evacuation is not complete — people may still feel like they need to use the bathroom but are unable to produce any stool.

Constipation accompanied by severe stomach pain may be a sign of a more serious medical condition.
Constipation accompanied by severe stomach pain may be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

These normal symptoms of constipation often resolve by drinking plenty of fluids and including more fiber in the diet. Some symptoms may signal the presence of serious medical conditions. These include severe stomach or abdominal discomfort, consistent blood in the stools, passing black stools, which could suggest abdominal bleeding, continued constipation in spite of treatment, or episodes of constipation followed by episodes of diarrhea.

A lack of frequent bowel movements may be a sign of constipation.
A lack of frequent bowel movements may be a sign of constipation.

For most people, symptoms of constipation are usually resolved with changes in diet and fluid intake. Long-term cases could be handled by using laxatives, fiber supplements, or other medicines under the guidance of a physician. It’s usually advised people not start using these medicines without doctor assistance because some may have rebound effects or they aren’t appropriate to treat the underlying causing of this condition.

Occasional constipation is generally no cause for concern.
Occasional constipation is generally no cause for concern.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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