Chronic Constipation: Facts vs. Myths
Learn how to relieve chronic constipation.
Chronic Constipation: When to See Your Doctor continued...
After testing, Rao says that an estimated one-third of those individuals
with chronic constipation might have normal results. The colon and rectum are
normal, but there's still hypersensitivity, pain, and discomfort when having a
"But nearly one-third of those with chronic constipation have
dyssynergic defecation," Rao says. "People with dyssynergic defecation
cannot sense stool in their bowel or have difficulty using bodily mechanisms to
expel the stool. Many with dyssynergic defecation are unaware that this is the
cause of their constipation and often they don't seek help beyond using
For those chronic constipation sufferers with dyssynergic defecation, Rao
recommends biofeedback. "This is a simple, noninvasive therapy that can
correct improper contraction of the pelvic floor muscles and external anal
sphincter during defecation," says Rao. "This nondrug therapy has been
shown categorically to be the only effective method to correct the behavior as
these patients learn what is wrong and then learn how to correct it."
Traditional over-the-counter laxatives may work in relieving chronic
constipation. Rao recommends senna products, magnesium, and fiber supplements.
The prescription medication, Amitiza® (lubiprostone), a chloride channel
activator that enhances intestinal fluid secretion, may also help in relieving
When Chronic Constipation Is a Warning Sign
Changes in your bowel habits may be a warning sign of a viral or bacterial
infection, obstruction, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or colon cancer. If
you have one or more of the following symptoms, call your health care
- Constipation that lasts for more than two weeks
- Severe diarrhea lasting more than two days
- Mild diarrhea lasting a week
- Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement
- Bloody diarrhea
- Black or tarry-colored stools