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Chronic Constipation - Myths and Facts!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD-Medicine, DNB-Gatroenterology
Gastroenterologist, Jalandhar  •  13 years experience
Chronic Constipation - Myths and Facts!

Constipation is one of the biggest digestive complaints about people across the globe. Patients suffering from chronic constipation can go through some of the irritating symptoms such as a headache, bloating, irritation etc. Not to mention it is a time consuming and expensive problem to get rid of. It is estimated that each year few crores of Indians visit a doctor to address chronic constipation and buy drugs worth millions.

What is chronic constipation?
There is no proper definition of chronic definition. For some it could be irregular bowel movement for 7-8 days, for others it could be a difficulty of passing stools. While others could describe chronic constipation as something that feels like a bowel movement, but the stool doesn’t pass even after sitting for long. A chronic patient with constipation can have small, hard or a combination of small and hard stool. One easy way to understand a chronic constipation symptom is the frequency of stool passing. For a constipation patient, the stool passes less than thrice a week and the tendency lasts for more than 6-7 months at stretch, if not treated.

The pain point of chronic constipation:
Patients suffering from chronic constipation often undergoes distress and anxiety due to lack of knowledge about their situation. Magnified fear about the root cause of the problem along with acute discomfort can make life difficult. Constipation can slow down the performance of a person and restrains from engaging in recreational activities. It is not uncommon for a person to get into depression. It is therefore important to consult a doctor to address the problem.

Some myths associated with chronic constipation:
Myth- Less than one bowel movement a day is the definition of chronic constipation:
Truth- It is estimated that less than 50 percent of the people ten to have one bowel movement per day. 90 percent of the overall population tends to have a 3-21 bowel movement in a week. The truth is, even 3 bowel movement in a week is normal.

Myth- Chronic constipation is the result of accumulation of toxins in the intestine
Truth- There is no evidence of any correlation between the toxin accumulation and chronic constipation. However, if a person faces constipation even after consuming the milk of magnesia, fibre, and laxative, it makes sense to consult a doctor.

Myth- Constipation increases with age:
Truth- While bowel movement can decrease with age, there is no evidence to prove that older people are more likely to suffer from chronic constipation. It is estimated that from the overall sample, close to 15-20 percent of the chronic constipation patients are elderly (above the age of 60).

Myth- consuming the right diet and fluid along with exercise can help a person refrain from chronic constipation.
Truth: Chronic constipation is often psychological. A history of trauma can set chronic constipation in motion. Constipation may coexist along with depression as well. Other factors such as low thyroid and an underlying medical condition can also lead to chronic constipation.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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