When is constipation an ailment and when is it a symptom?
Constipation is a common ailment that usually requires no special treatment beyond some over-the-counter medications, but it can be a sign of a larger issue that you might need to see a gastroenterologist to help correct a larger issue.
As with many health issues perhaps the most important sign that a larger problem is in play is repeated symptoms, or dramatic change in your personal habits. This is mostly true for any number of ailments, but most specifically perhaps when dealing with the intestinal tract.
A sudden change in bowel movements or habits could be a signifier for a larger problem. Dr Ned Snyder, III is a Houston gastroenterologist who advises seeking medical attention if “constipation represents a distinct change in their bowel habits, especially if they are over age 40.” He also suggested that If the constipation was causing “abdominal discomfort or interfering with quality of life” you should seek medical attention as well.
You also may consider seeking medical attention if your constipation aligns with other symptoms. If you’re experiencing other gastrointestinal symptoms along with constipation you may have signs of a larger problem. This is true for many GI tract issues, if you’re simply experiencing one symptom things may not be a bigger issue however if you’re experiencing more than one subsequently then this might be a good warning sign to heed.
Another consideration for those suffering from constipation is that chronic constipation can lead to problems of its own. Being chronically constipated can lead to health complications. Make sure if you’re having regular and constant constipation to seek out medical help. You also want to be aware of medications that could be causing your trouble. Dr Kimberly Manning is an Atlanta gastroenterologist who reminds us “some medications are incredibly constipating.” Keeping this in mind will help you distinguish when your constipation might be relatively normal, and when it might be a warning sign of something bigger.