What is constipation?

Constipation is a condition in which a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week and a feeling that not all stool has passed. The stool can be hard and dry.

Sometimes it is painful to pass the stool. Almost everyone gets constipated. In most cases, it is not serious if lasts for a short time.

How bad is my constipation?

Mild: Occasional or intermittent bowel movement; not having a bowel movement as often as usual; straining to have bowel movements.

Moderate: Fewer than three bowel movements a week; hard, dry or lumpy stool. It may limit your instrumental activities of daily life (medication management, housekeeping activities, ability to manage finances).

Severe: Obstipation (severe constipation that makes defecation impossible or nearly impossible); weight loss, bleeding from the rectum or blood in stools. It may limit your self-care activities of daily life (eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower, and using the toilet). It requires immediate treatment under your doctor’s supervision.

How to manage mild constipation?

Keep track of your bowel movement using Ankr (myAnkr web portal or the Ankr app). It will help you describe the discomfort to your doctor or nurse.

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and grains, which are high in fiber
  • Drink plenty of water and other liquids
  • Get enough exercise
  • Take time to have a bowel movement
  • Use laxatives if recommended by physician
  • Ask your doctor if any medicines you take may cause constipation
How to manage moderate to severe constipation?

See a doctor if you notice following symptoms:

What causes constipation?

It may have multiple causes at a time. Cause may include

  • Inadequate consumption of food with fiber
  • Not drinking enough water or other fluids
  • Lack of physical inactivity
  • Cancer treatment may cause constipation. Pain medicine, chemotherapy, and drugs that treat nausea, vomiting, seizures, depression, diarrhea, or high blood pressure can affect digestion.
  • Scar tissue from surgery or cancer growing in the bowel, which can narrow or partially block the bowel
  • A tumor or scar tissue completely blocking the bowel (intestinal obstruction)
  • Cancer pressing on the spinal cord
  • High levels of calcium in the blood
  • Low potassium levels
  • Thyroid gland problems
  • Diabetes

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