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Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the U.S. Everyone gets constipation from time to time, especially as we get older. You may have chronic constipation if you experience certain symptoms for more than three months at a time. These symptoms include:
Infrequent bowel movements
Having less than three stools per week
Difficulty passing stools
Passing small amounts of hard, dry stool
When you have chronic constipation, you suffer from one of two medical problems:
Colonic inertia: Your colon is not able to move stool efficiently to your bowels.
Obstructed defecation: You cannot have a bowel movement without straining excessively.
As food moves through your colon, water is absorbed to help form solid stool. Muscle contractions then push the stool toward your rectum. When your colon's muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, stool moves through the colon too slowly, resulting in too much water being absorbed.
Chronic constipation often causes pain and discomfort that can interfere with your everyday life. The good news is that experts at Stanford Health Care specialize in comprehensive testing and treatment for this condition. Learn more about our General Gastroenterology Clinic.