Chronic constipation is a very common condition, characterized by infrequent, difficult, and/ or perceived incomplete evacuation of bowel movements. As per traditional sources of information on medicine and gastroenterology, the most basic way to define chronic constipation is, “the movement of bowel two or fewer times a week”.
After a global approach, it has come down to an addition of one more bowel movement. Hence, anything less than 3 bowel movements in a week is considered as chronic constipation. As far as the character of the stools is considered, they are hard to dry small almost like pellets, making the process more difficult.
Chronic constipation without an identifiable cause is often referred to as “chronic idiopathic constipation”, where idiopathic stands for something where the exact cause of the condition is not known.
Subsequently, some of the most common symptoms of chronic constipation include having less than 3 bowel movements in a week, hard stools, straining, and incomplete evacuation. The inability to pass stools normally is also associated with chronic constipation.
Constipation is directly related to digestion. In fact, when the digestive system is a bit faulty in the long run, an individual may suffer from constipation. The condition can be classified into primary constipation and secondary constipation.
Primary constipation is nothing but a simple consequence of habitual bowel elimination on common toilet seats. Individuals suffering from primary constipation have difficulty emptying their bowels, the main cause of which is the obstructive nature of the recto-anal angle and its association with the normal sitting posture of defecation. Primary constipation is further categorized into:
- Normal transit
- Slow transit
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
Whereas secondary constipation is when an individual is on a prolonged fasting period, or when there is a very high usage of cough syrups that are anticholinergic, or there has been some structural abnormality in the colon.
To understand constipation better, we need to know more about the process of digestion. The process of digestion includes six major activities: ingestion, propulsion, mechanical or physical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption, and defecation. But not many are aware of Segmentation, a very crucial step in the process of digestion.
Segmentation involves the contraction of the circular muscles along the digestive tract. Segmentation, which helps the food or the faecal matter to travel to and fro, is a very important part of the colonic movement. The process facilitates absorption, coordinated with movements to push the stool down and out, forming the foundation of defecation.
But there are critical questions when it comes to an optimized clinical response to chronic constipation:
- Is there any recent development in the area of constipation?
- Are there any new findings on the treatment of chronic constipation?
- What are the other proven indications of constipation?
- If there are any new medicines discovered, would they promise to be effective in the long run?
- Are there any other novel ways discovered to manage chronic constipation?
For answers to all these questions and more information on Understanding Chronic Constipation to Optimize Clinical Response – Click Here for a free webinar
Dr. Gourdas Chaudhari, Director & Head of Department at the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepato-biliary Sciences, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon