Gastroenterologists located in Austin, TX and surrounding areas
If you’re experiencing constipation, you’re not alone. Constipation accounts for at least 2.5 million doctor visits each year. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Capitol Gastro can relieve your constipation, with recommendations that include lifestyle changes and medications to increase the fluid in your intestines. The practice offers convenient locations in Austin, Cedar Park, Georgetown, and Dripping Springs, Texas. Call today.
Constipation Q & A
What causes constipation?
Constipation generally happens when the stool that forms from digested food moves too slowly through your digestive tract. When stool moves too slowly, it loses water content, becoming hard and dry. Dehydration, changes in your diet and activity, and certain drugs can slow down the movement of your stool, leading to constipation.
Constipation also may be caused by poor coordination of your pelvic and anal muscles. In rare but serious cases, bowel blockage may lead to constipation.
How is constipation diagnosed?
Your doctor at Capitol Gastro asks about your symptoms and performs a physical exam. They may perform a rectal exam with a gloved finger to look for the presence of stool and to evaluate the amount of stool and consistency. Your doctor may test your stool sample for signs of blood.
Your doctor typically can diagnose your condition on the basis of the exam and your symptoms. However, if the reason for your constipation remains unclear, your doctor usually recommends a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. These are outpatient procedures that use a flexible viewing tube to examine the lower part of your large intestine or your entire large intestine. These tests are usually done when your constipation develops suddenly or is growing noticeably worse.
In a few cases, your doctor orders an abdominal X-ray to look for evidence of bowel obstruction or other condition.
How is constipation treated?
If your stool is impacted, your doctor generally performs an enema, which flushes water into your rectum to help you pass the stool. You may need to take over-the-counter laxatives every 2-3 days if your bowel movements fail to occur naturally.
Your doctor often recommends changes to your diet, including:
- Drinking more fluids
- Eating more fiber-rich foods, such as fruit (especially prunes), vegetables, whole-grain breads, and high-fiber cereals
- Taking bulking agents, such as psyllium and methylcellulose, to help hold water in your stool
If your constipation isn’t improving after treatment with over-the-counter laxatives, your doctor sometimes prescribes medications to increase fluid secretion into your intestine. In other cases, for constipation due to opiate drug use, medications that block the effects of opiates on your gut may help minimize your symptoms.
For proper diagnosis and treatment of constipation, call Capitol Gastro today.