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Constipation - Symptoms

A patient may be having chronic constipation if they have two or more of the following symptoms persisting for more than months:

  • straining to pass stools
  • lumpy or hard stools
  • a sensation of incomplete evacuation or a feeling of having to pass stools again
  • feeling of blockage in the rectum that is not allowing stools to pass out
  • passing stools less than three times a week
  • needing help to pass stools, example: pressing hands on the abdomen or using a finger to remove stools from the rectum

Complications

Piles: this is the most common complication of constipation.

Anal fissures: fissures are tears in the walls of the rectum, leading to pain and discomfort. They get worse by dry, hard stools.

Faecal impaction: faecal impaction can sometimes lead to a number of other complications, including swelling of the rectum, loss of sensation and a lack of control over urine and stools or rectal prolapse.

Psychological complications

  • affecting the mood, i.e., anxiety and irritability
  • social withdrawal due to complications
  • interference in day-to-day activities
  • negative impact on health

When to seek urgent medical help

The patient must look for the following associated alarming signs:

  • sudden onset of constipation
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • lump upon examining the stomach
  • blood in stools

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