When is constipation an emergency?
Constipation happens when you have difficulty passing stool or when you haven’t had a bowel movement in three days.
Everyone has been constipated at one point. Usually the problem is short-lived.
The causes for constipation include:
- A change in diet
- A diet that contains little or no fiber
- A lack of exercise
- Certain medications can cause constipation
- Certain conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract can also cause constipation (an example is irritable bowel syndrome)
- Other medical conditions outside of the gastrointestinal tract like diabetes and lupus can also cause constipation
Normally, constipation is a short-term problem and can be alleviated by lifestyle changes.
For instance, identifying the problem food and eliminating it from your diet can stop constipation.
Adding more fiber into your diet and exercising for at least 30 minutes per day 5 days per week can also help.
Eating fruits like prunes, apples, pears and kiwis prove are effective in getting rid of constipation. If you want to have regular bowel movements, these fruits are helpful as well.
So when does constipation becomes an emergency?
Constipation that is accompanied by intense abdominal pain, vomiting, blood in the stool or severe bloating suggests a serious underlying health condition and you should see a doctor immediately.
Intense abdominal pain and constipation
Regular constipation may be come with some pain.
However when constipation comes with intense abdominal pain, it could indicate:
- a perforated stomach
- an obstruction (blockage) in the intestine
- reduced blood flow to the intestines
If you or a loved one are experiencing constipation with intense pain, it is important to go to the emergency room immediately.
With these types of emergencies, symptoms progress very quickly and can cause death.
Thus, the sooner you see a doctor the better.
Vomiting and constipation
Fecal impaction happens when your stool is so hard, there is no way it can be passed. In these instance, it also obstructs normal intestinal movement.
This is the cause for vomiting in constipation and it requires immediate medical attention.
Stomach bloating and constipation
If your stomach bloating is painful and you are constipated, this is reason to see a doctor immediately.
Blood in stool and constipation
Passing hard stool can come with some blood in the stool as the hard stool passes through the anus.
This may be minimal and may not be a cause for alarm.
However, if you notice obvious blood, large blood clots or darker colored stools when you are constipated, a more severe problem could be at hand.
A major symptom of colon and rectal cancers is blood in the stool.
This would also be a reason to see a doctor immediately.