Discover What Happens If You Are Constipated For Too Long

The human body is surprisingly complex even if we do take it and its functions for granted. Of course, like all complex systems, there are times when issues develop and need to be dealt with. Constipation is one of these. 

Constipation: What Is It

Constipation is the inability to pass a stool. It can also apply if you are passing stools but it is very difficult and they are very hard. In fact, failing to have at least three stool releases a week is also classified as constipation. 

In many cases, the matter resolves itself and your body adapts and changes to different stimuli. However, if the constipation doesn’t go and you are struggling to pass any stools then you’re going to need to see a doctor. 

In extreme cases, impacted stools occur; this means that the passage is blocked and you are likely to need assistance resolving the issue. If standard techniques don’t work then a colorectal surgeon will take over and examine your colon and intestines. It is possible that part of your colon will be removed to remove the blockage and restore normal flow.

Fortunately, the need for this is rare.

The Risks Of Staying Constipated

The most common issue for anyone staying constipated for an extended period of time is haemorrhoids. These painful lumps are a result of excessive straining on the toilet. Straining can also cause anal fissures and these are at risk of infection as they are constantly being reopened.

It is also possible that despite being unable to pass stools you develop leakage. The liquid in your stools will slowly leak out of your rectum, this can be embarrassing. 

In extreme cases, constipation can lead to rectal prolapse. This is when part of your lower intestine falls out of your rectum, effectively protruding from your bottom. This is not usually seen as a medical emergency. However, in most cases, surgery will be needed to put the intestine back in the right place. 

It should also be noted that faecal impaction, where hard stools collect in the rectum, cannot usually be cleared by yourself. Your doctor is likely to try laxatives first and perhaps an enema. But, if these don’t work you will need surgery to remove the impacted faecal matter. 

When To Be Concerned

The average person passes stools between 1 and 3 times per day. This is considered healthy. However, everyone is different and if you only pass stools once every other day this is fine, providing you don’t have any symptoms of constipation. The key sign that you have an issue is when your normal toilet pattern changes. 

If it hasn’t settled back to normal within seven days it’s advisable to get a doctor to check you out. While this can be embarrassing, this is what doctors are trained for and you need their help. 

In most cases, simple changes to your lifestyle, such as increasing fibre intake, exercising more, and staying hydrated will resolve the issue. But, if the constipation remains after a week, get medical help, it can be serious. 

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