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Questions for the Experts: How can I deal with my chronic constipation?

Questions for the Experts: How can I deal with my chronic constipation?

We asked members of our medical staff to answer some common questions they hear from their patients.

Q: How can I deal with my chronic constipation?

A: A common complaint that I get that is often overlooked is normal bowel health. Chronic constipation—meaning not having a soft, easy to pass bowel movement daily is something that affects people of all ages. From newborns to people in their 80s and 90s having a daily soft bowel movement should be a normal part of everyone's life. Many times this is not taught and is something that is not part of normal conversation for most people.

If someone is having hard, pellet-like stools or blood in their stool—that is not normal. Although people do have different amounts and times that they go without having a bowel movement—that's okay—as long as the stool is soft, without blood and there is no straining to have to go.

Many times just having a short conversation on things to do to have a soft bowel movement can make a difference. It also means not having to take any medicines. The amount of water and liquids we have in our diet, in addition to fiber can play a major role in the difference between a hard stool and a soft stool. A quick rule of thumb is to take your weight in pounds and divide it in half. That is the number of ounces of water you should strive to drink in a day. Trying to use a dissolvable fiber in addition to high-fiber fruits and vegetables is a great long term solution.

Many people wonder why this matters? Chronic constipation can lead to many things, ranging from bed wetting and chronic bladder infections to leakage of stool. It can lead to pockets in the colon called diverticulosis, these can become infected and cause areas of infection and inflammation. In addition, many people become dependent upon laxatives or medications taken daily to have a bowel movement.

Although it is sometimes a topic of taboo—we need to pay attention to our poo!

Erica Rinker, MD recently joined Campbell County Medical Group Family Medicine in the Main Clinic on the south side of Campbell County Memorial Hospital. She is now accepting new patients of all ages. Call 307.688.3636 for an appointment. Learn more at www.cchwyo.org/family.