Constipation and Defecation Problems
Defecation is the last step in the digestion process where the bowel is emptied. The time interval between bowel movement differs in each individual.
When the bowel movement is not normal causing the stool to pass too quickly through the large intestine, then this condition is called diarrhea.
Constipation is the difficulty in the emptying of the bowel contents usually caused by
Less water or fiber in the diet
Consuming a lot of dairy products
Medications such as antacids, narcotics and iron pills etc.
Symptoms for constipation include few bowel movements, small or hard stools, trouble with bowel movements and bloating of the belly.
The doctors might perform the following diagnostic tests to confirm the condition.
- Laboratory tests such as a complete physical test, urine test, blood test etc. are performed.
- Bacteria culture test: In this test, a sample of the stool is collected and cultured in a lab. This culture is then used to detect infections caused by bacteria or parasites in the digestive system such as food poisoning, constipation etc.
- Magnetic resonance (MR) defecography: is a non-invasive test performed to acquire images of various stages of defecation to determine how the pelvic floor muscles and rectum works as well as to understand renal function. It is used to find the cause of defecations problems such as constipation and to evaluate diseases affecting renal function such as hernia, rectal prolapsed etc.
- Color of the stool helps to determine defecations problems. Normal stool color ranges from all shades of brown to green. If concerned by the color of the stool, the patient is recommended to consult a doctor to make sure there is no bleeding in the digestive tract.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: is a procedure in where a thin tube with a lens at the end is inserted into the lower part of the intestine and rectum to view the insides of the organ and check for problems.
- Colonoscopy: is performed to view the entire large intestine. In this procedure a tube with a camera at the end is inserted through the rectum into the large intestine.
- Barium enema X-ray: is a procedure where white liquid called barium is injected into the rectum to through a small tube. This helps to show areas affected in the X-ray images.
- Anal Manometry is performed to examine how the anus works and the muscles surrounding it.
- Colon Transit Time Test is performed to measure the time taken for food to digest in the body. This is done using a pill with a radioactive marker. If the pill takes longer than 3 days to pass out of the body, it means there is a defecation problem.
Treatment options vary according to each condition. Medications such as laxatives are prescribed by the doctor to ease any difficulty in bowel movements. Lifestyle and dietary changes, being more active and not suppressing the urge to go are necessary for proper defecation by the body.