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Constipation is often defined as having a bowel movement fewer than three times a week. Other symptoms of constipation include the following:

  • Hard stools
  • Difficulty or straining when passing stools
  • Pain during a bowel movement

If left untreated, chronic constipation may cause hemorrhoids, or swollen veins near your anus or lower rectum that may become painful.

Constipation: What you should know

  • Normal bowel movements are different for each person. It’s OK not to have a bowel movement every day.
  • The following things can contribute to constipation:
    • A low-fiber diet
    • Lack of physical activity
    • Not drinking enough water
    • Not going to the bathroom when you have the urge
    • Stress
  • You can help prevent or address constipation by adding more fiber to your diet, exercising more and drinking more water.
  • While uncomfortable, constipation by itself is not a serious problem. It can be a symptom of many conditions, including colorectal cancer, underactive thyroid and diabetes.
  • Even though constipation can be a sign of more serious issues, only a small number of people with constipation have a serious medical condition.

How can I get help for constipation?

Call your primary care doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Your symptoms come on suddenly and are accompanied by pain
  • You have blood in your stool in addition to constipation
  • Your constipation continues for more than two weeks

Care for constipation at Rush

If your primary care doctor recommends further evaluation and testing, Rush has many specialists who can help you get to the root cause of your distress.

Why choose Rush for constipation care

  • Rush has a program for abdominal and pelvic health issues, including constipation. The program can address the full spectrum of issues that could be causing your constipation. The program has a coordinator who can help you navigate the multiple specialists you might need to see to find relief.
  • At Rush, children with constipation can see pediatric gastroenterologists, physical therapists and other clinicians who specialize in treating children with this condition.

Departments and programs that treat this condition