Persistent problems in bowel movements or a blocked feeling in the lower gastrointestinal tract might indicate chronic constipation.
Occasional constipation, or difficulty having bowel movements, happens to many people. But those suffering from this condition more persistently may be affected by chronic constipation. Chronic constipation may be diagnosed by a doctor if symptoms last for three months or more, including passing fewer than three stools per week.1*
Chronic constipation can be caused by many things, and sometimes the exact cause is unknown. Blockages in the colon or rectum, problems with the nerve signals or rectum and colon muscles, or changes in hormones are possible causes. While this condition is unpleasant, it is not uncommon. Up to one quarter of the population experiences chronic constipation, and doctors who treat gastrointestinal (GI) disorders often spend around half their time treating it.2
While it is important to rule out causes related to more serious diseases, such as cancer, that might be causing a blockage, most people who suffer from chronic constipation are able to address their symptoms through lifestyle and dietary changes. Specific risk factors for chronic constipation include low dietary fiber, dehydration and low levels of physical activity. Certain medications may also lead to chronic constipation. Those afflicted with chronic constipation should consider increasing their daily amount of exercise, getting sufficient fluid intake and trying to eat up to 30 grams of fiber a day. We at Nestlé Health Science are devoted to developing nutritional therapies for GI disorders such as chronic constipation with the aim of helping patients prevent and manage their condition better.
1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/basics/definition/con-20032773. Accessed December 2014.
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206560/. Accessed December 2014.
*Listed symptoms are not all-inclusive; actual patient symptoms may vary.