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Suhail Salem, MD -  - Gastroenterology

United Gastroenterologists

Gastroenterology located in Northridge, CA & Encino, CA

Everyone has constipation from time to time, but chronic issues could indicate an underlying problem. In Northridge and Encino, California, Suhail Salem, MD, relies on his advanced and specialized training as a gastroenterologist to diagnose and treat digestive disorders like chronic constipation. To find relief from chronic constipation, call Suhail Salem, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.

Constipation Q & A

What is constipation?

Constipation describes difficulty passing stools or having infrequent bowel movements. If you experience these issues for several weeks or longer, you have chronic constipation.

When you have chronic constipation, it can interfere with your daily life and also lead to other complications like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or fecal impaction. It’s also possible to develop rectal prolapse where your rectum protrudes from your anus.

What causes constipation?

Constipation usually develops when your stools move too slowly through your system or can’t pass properly. When you have chronic constipation, it can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Blockages in your rectum or colon, like anal fissures or colorectal cancers
  • Neurological issues affecting your colorectal muscles
  • Problems with your pelvic muscles involved in bowel movements
  • Hormonal conditions that disrupt the fluid balance in your body

Your risk of having chronic constipation is higher if you take certain medications, are a woman or older adult, or have a mental health disorder like depression. Having a sedentary lifestyle, not drinking enough fluids, and consuming a diet that’s low in fiber can also increase your chances of constipation.

What are the symptoms of constipation?

The signs and symptoms of constipation often include:

  • Passing less than three bowel movements a week
  • Having hard or lumpy stools
  • Straining to pass stools
  • Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels
  • Needing to use your hands to help pass stools

When you have chronic constipation, you can also feel like something in your rectum is preventing you from having a bowel movement.

How is constipation diagnosed and treated?

Dr. Salem diagnoses chronic constipation through physical evaluation and additional tests to look for an underlying cause. These tests might include:

  • Blood tests
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE)
  • Colonoscopy

Based on your symptoms, Dr. Salem might also recommend additional screenings that gauge the muscle function and speed of your anal sphincter and how effectively food moves through your colon.

The first step in treating constipation often includes making diet and lifestyle modifications, like increasing the amount of fiber you consume and getting more physical activity. Dr. Salem might also recommend laxatives to make bowel movements easier, prescription medications designed to ease chronic constipation, or special exercises to train your pelvic muscles.

If you have chronic constipation because of blockages or issues like anal fissures, Dr. Salem might suggest surgery.

Call Suhail Salem, MD, or schedule an appointment online today if you’re experiencing constipation.