(StatePoint) Constipation is something that most people have likely experienced at one time or another. For some people however, symptoms can occur over the long term.
Symptomatic individuals and patients should learn more about two types of long-term constipation: Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C). While CIC and IBS-C share many of the same symptoms, there are important differences between the two.
One in seven U.S. adults have CIC and those with this condition may experience:
• Infrequent bowel movements (BMs)
• Hard-to-pass BMs
• Not feeling empty after a BM
In addition to symptoms of CIC, patients with IBS-C also experience abdominal pain related to changes in bowel movements, and one in 20 U.S. adults are living with this chronic condition.
The causes of CIC and IBS-C are not known. That said, for some, the cause could be linked to changes in the connections between the brain and the gut.
If you’re experiencing constipation, you should consider making a New Year’s resolution to speak to your doctor who may help address your symptoms.
“Your physician can diagnose your condition and offer treatment options that may provide relief,” says Howard Franklin, MD, MBA, chief medical officer, Salix Pharmaceuticals. He suggests asking your doctor the following questions:
• What are my options if lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications haven’t worked?
• How many bowel movements should I be having each week?
• What consistency should they be?
Dr. Franklin also recommends coming to your appointment prepared to share what symptoms you’re experiencing and how long you’ve been trying to manage them. You might also be asked to identify what type of stool you most frequently experience when you are not taking medication using the Bristol Stool Form Scale. The Bristol Stool Form Scale is a visual representation of the seven types of BMs that you can have.
“While it might seem awkward to talk about, telling your doctor which type or types of stool you typically have can help you both create a treatment plan that works for you and your body,” says Dr. Franklin. “The good news is that now more than ever, it is possible for a doctor to evaluate your symptoms and diagnose IBS-C and CIC during a virtual visit, so take advantage of telehealth appointments.”
To learn more about the difference between IBS-C and CIC and for additional resources, visit ConfrontConstipation.com.
“If you are experiencing constipation, you are not alone,” says Dr. Franklin. “Constipation is not only common, it’s treatable.”
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