Virtually everyone suffers from constipation sometime during their life, but when it continues long-term and causes serious discomfort, it’s time to get help.

Constipation Q & A

Virtually everyone suffers from constipation sometime during their life, but when it continues long-term and causes serious discomfort, it’s time to get help. Board-certified gastroenterologist Jan J. Shim, MD, offers compassionate constipation care at her main office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, and an additional office in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Reach out for constipation relief using the online scheduler or by calling the office nearest you now.

What is constipation?

Constipation means that you struggle to have normal bowel movements. Usually, the signs of chronic constipation include:

  • Fewer than three bowel movements weekly
  • Discomfort or pain passing stools
  • Hard stools
  • Dry stools
  • Persistent feeling of full bowels or bowel blockage

Constipation is a very common problem. Occasional constipation isn't usually a medical problem, but if you persistently struggle with constipation it's important to get help from Dr. Shim.

What tests do I need for chronic constipation?

Dr. Shim may perform one or more of these tests as part of your exam:

  • Blood tests to check for underlying conditions
  • X-rays to look for intestine blockages
  • Colonoscopy to view your colon and rectum
  • Sigmoidoscopy to view your lower colon
  • Anorectal manometry to measure anal sphincter muscle function
  • Balloon expulsion test to measure how fast you pass a water-filled balloon
  • Colonic transit study to determine how food moves through your colon

Depending on your situation and constipation severity, Dr. Shim may also perform other tests to find out what's causing your constipation and how she can help.

How do you treat chronic constipation?

As in all treatments, Dr. Shim takes a whole-body approach to chronic constipation. She helps you address chronic constipation with both lifestyle changes and medical interventions. Your treatment may include:

  • Gradually boosting your dietary fiber intake
  • Increasing exercise
  • Having bowel movements as soon as the urge strikes
  • Taking laxatives
  • Taking stool softeners
  • Using enemas and suppositories when needed

If your chronic constipation persists after the changes above, you might need prescription medication to improve or speed up stool movement within your colon. If your chronic constipation is related to opioid use, Dr. Shim may prescribe a medication that reverses the drug's impact on your colon.

You may also benefit from pelvic floor muscle training if you have chronic constipation. In some cases of chronic constipation, you may need surgery if you've exhausted all the nonsurgical treatment approaches.

Dr. Shim can diagnose rectocele, a type of pelvic organ prolapse in which the rectum pushes into the vagina, or stricture, in which a Crohn's disease sufferer has intestinal narrowing. If you have any type of intestinal blockage, you may need surgery to pass stool normally. It's rare to need complete colon removal.

For caring help with chronic constipation, call Jan J. Shim, MD, or book online today.

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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