Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for tag: Constipation

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
August 14, 2018
Category: GI Care
Tags: Constipation  

Having trouble going to the bathroom? Find out what might be to blame.

Constipation is an annoying and embarrassing problem that all of us will experience at some point. Constipation is when you are unable to have a bowel movement or you have trouble passing stools. If you are having less than three bowel movements a week then you could be dealing with constipation.

This problem isn’t usually something to worry about, as it usually resolves itself on its own. Of course, there are times in which you may want to turn to a gastroenterologist for care.

What causes constipation?

This usually happens when the stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract, making it difficult to expel. Causes of constipation include:

  • Dehydration
  • Poor diet
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Anal fissures
  • Bowel stricture (narrowing of the colon)
  • Conditions that affect the nerves of the colon or rectum (e.g. stroke; Parkinson’s disease)
  • Weak pelvic muscles
  • Hormone changes due to pregnancy, diabetes, or certain thyroid disorders

There are also certain factors that can increase your chances for chronic constipation:

  • Age (older adults are more likely to experience constipation)
  • Dehydration
  • Not getting enough fiber in your diet
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Taking certain medications (e.g. antidepressants; blood pressure medications)
  • Certain mental health disorders such as depression

How can you prevent constipation?

If you deal with constipation regularly there are some ways to help lessen the chances for this problem. Make sure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day and include a lot of fiber-rich foods in your diet such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans. Stay away from processed foods, and make sure you are staying active.

When should I see a doctor?

It’s a good idea to give your GI doctor a call if you’ve been experiencing constipation for over 3 weeks or if lifestyle modifications such as drinking more water or adding more fiber to your diet just aren’t working. It’s also important to see a specialist as soon as possible if your constipation is accompanied by pain or if you see blood on the toilet paper (this could be a sign of hemorrhoids or an anal fissure).

 

If you are experiencing chronic or severe constipation it’s a good idea to turn to a GI specialist who will help you get to the root of the problem and help get your digestive tract moving in the right direction.

If you ever chewed gum as a kid then you probably remember an adult telling you not to swallow that gum or else it would get stuck in your intestines. Is this actually true or just an Old Wives Tale? What happens if you do swallow your gum? Could it cause you intestinal distress or other complications now or down the road?

Well, the good news is that most people, at some point during their lifetime, will swallow gum and never experience any issues. Even though the body really can’t digest chewing gum it doesn’t mean that it will get stuck inside the body or will cause gastrointestinal issues. Even if our bodies cannot digest something they can still move the gum along through the body. While the body can easily digest other ingredients found in gum (e.g. sweeteners), the foundation or gum resin won’t be able to be digested properly. But don’t worry; this undigested portion of chewing gum should pass through your body without issue and leave through a normal bowel movement.

However, it is possible that gum may cause a blockage within the digestive system. How? While this is very rare, it is possible that if you swallow a rather large piece of gum (or if you swallow multiple pieces over a short span of time) that this could lead to a blockage. This may be more likely to occur in children, especially children that are too young to understand that gum should be chewed and not swallowed. Make sure that your child isn’t given gum until they fully understand the purpose of chewing gum.

Of course, if you notice some bloating or abdominal discomfort after chewing gum then you could point your finger at this seemingly innocent treat. This is because you might be swallowing excess air while chewing gum, which can lead to some pain and discomfort. If you notice this issue then you may want to limit how often you chew gum or opt for sucking on a mint instead.

If you have questions about your gastrointestinal health or if you start to experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea or nausea that doesn’t go away, then it’s important that you have a gastroenterologist on your side who can help.