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The definition of constipation varies with almost every individual. The medical community tends to define it as infrequent bowel movements, while non-medical persons consider constipation to be the passing of hard stools or straining to have a bowel movement.
The colon (large intestine) absorbs water while forming waste products (stool) from digested food. Muscle contractions in the colon push the stool toward the rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum, it is solid because most of the water has been absorbed.
Hard, dry stools and constipation occur when the colon absorbs too much water away from the stool. This can happen because the muscle of the colon contracts too slowly causing the stool to move through too slowly. There are many causes of constipation and there are often many factors leading to the problem. The treatment of constipation includes lifestyle changes, as well as medication, and rarely, surgery.
Get the Facts... With your MediFocus Guide
The Medifocus Guide on Constipation provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
- What are the most common symptoms of constipation?
- Are there any recognized risk factors for developing constipation?
- What kinds of medical tests are used to determine the causes of constipation?
- What is the current standard of care for the treatment of constipation?
- What treatment options are available for the management of constipation?
- Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
- Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in constipation?
- Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for constipation?
- What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about constipation?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
- Slow transit constipation: a model of human gut dysmotility. Review of possible aetiologies.
Neurogastroenterology & Motility. 2000
- Interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
- Functional bowel disorders in the geriatric patient: constipation, fecal impaction, and fecal incontinence.
American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2000
- Abdominal massage therapy for chronic constipation: A systematic review of controlled clinical trials.
Forschende Komplementarmedizin. 1999
- Constipation in the elderly.
Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. 1999
- Constipation: an approach to diagnosis, treatment, referral.
Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 1999
- Management of colorectal-anal dysfunction.
Obstetrics & Gynecology Clinics of North America. 1998
- Clinical significance and application of anorectal physiology.
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology - Supplement. 1998
- Constipation in the elderly.
American Family Physician. 1998
- Hands on help.
Nursing Times. 1998
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