Constipation services offered in Midlothian, N. Chesterfield, Short Pump, Henrico, Richmond and Mechanicsville, VA

Every year, about 2.5 million people visit their doctor to get help with constipation. Though the cause of constipation varies, treatment and prevention usually include lifestyle changes. The team at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates, with eight offices in Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Mechanicsville, Virginia, takes a comprehensive approach to managing constipation. To get professional help for your constipation from the experts, call the office most convenient to you or schedule an appointment online today.

Constipation Q & A

What is constipation?

Constipation is when you have fewer stools than normal, stool that’s difficult to pass, or both. Despite what many believe, not having a bowel movement every day doesn’t mean you have constipation.

Bowel habits differ from person to person. Some people have several bowel movements a day, while others have only three bowel movements a week. Both are normal and healthy.

Constipation occurs when there’s a change in your usual bowel habits and your stools are hard and dry, or you feel like you can’t fully empty your bowel when going to the bathroom.

What causes constipation?

Constipation occurs when food waste moves too slowly through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When food waste moves too slowly through your GI tract, your intestine absorbs more water, creating the hard, dry stool. 

This slow down may occur from any number of causes, including a change in diet or fluid intake, travel, or stress.

Constipation is also a symptom of many medical conditions, including:

  • Celiac disease
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Diverticulosis
  • Diverticulitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Gastrointestinal tumor
  • Pelvic floor disorders
  • Neurological conditions: Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidis

Medications and dietary supplements may also cause constipation. 

When should I seek professional help for constipation?

The team at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates recommends you come in for an evaluation when you have ongoing problems with constipation from an unknown cause.

During your consultation, your gastroenterologist asks detailed questions about your bowel habits, diet, usual routine, medical history, and family history. They complete a physical exam and may perform diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out a suspected cause of your constipation.

Testing may include blood work, stool testing, or diagnostic imaging such as an X-ray or CT scan. The team may also suggest a colonoscopy or upper endoscopy if they suspect your constipation is due to a GI condition.

What are some of the treatments for constipation?

The team customizes your constipation treatment plan based on the underlying cause. However, no matter the cause, they recommend increasing fluid and fiber intake to treat and prevent constipation. 

If diet changes fail to improve your bowel habits, the team may recommend stool softeners and laxatives. When used appropriately, laxatives make a safe long-term treatment option for constipation.

To get help with your constipation, call Richmond Gastroenterology Associates or schedule an appointment online today.