Constipation is a common digestive issue that affects people of all ages. While occasional bouts of constipation may be harmless, persistent or severe cases can be indicative of underlying health concerns, including colorectal cancer. It’s essential to understand the causes, treatments, and when to seek medical attention from a colorectal surgeon for proper evaluation and diagnosis. Remember, you can always request a female surgeon when you are looking for a colorectal surgeon in Melbourne.
What causes constipation?
- Lifestyle factors: Inadequate fibre intake, sedentary lifestyle, and lack of exercise can contribute to constipation. Insufficient fluid intake and ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement may also play a role.
- Diet: A diet low in fibre and high in processed foods, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates can lead to constipation. Fibre helps add bulk to the stool and facilitates regular bowel movements.
- Medications: Certain medications, including painkillers, antacids, antidepressants, and iron supplements, can cause constipation as a side effect.
- Medical conditions: Underlying medical conditions such as hormonal imbalances (hypothyroidism), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, and neurological disorders can contribute to constipation. If you have any of these, it’s worthwhile speaking to a male or female surgeon to help you manage your condition effectively and reduce risks of constipation.
- Emotional and mental health: Our gut really is our second brain, so when our minds aren’t feeling well this can manifest in our bodies too! Stress, anxiety, and depression can impact bowel movements and contribute to constipation.
Treatments for constipation
So, what can you do if you’re feeling blocked up in your bowels? Here’s what your doctor and colorectal surgeon may advise.
- Dietary changes: Increase fibre intake by consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. It’s important to increase fibre gradually to prevent gas and bloating. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Regular exercise: Engaging in physical activity stimulates bowel movements and promotes healthy digestion. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, such as walking, jogging, or yoga.
- Lifestyle modifications: Establish a regular bowel routine by visiting the restroom at the same time every day. Do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement and allow yourself enough time for unhurried bathroom breaks.
- Over-the-counter remedies: In some cases, over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners can provide temporary relief. However, these should be used sparingly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
When to see a colorectal surgeon in Melbourne
While most cases of constipation can be resolved through lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter remedies, it’s important to be aware of warning signs that may indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as colorectal cancer. Consider consulting a colorectal surgeon in Melbourne if you experience:
- Persistent constipation: If constipation persists despite dietary changes and lifestyle modifications, it may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires further evaluation.
- Blood in your stool: The presence of blood in the stool, either bright red or dark in colour, should never be ignored. It may be an indication of various conditions, including colorectal cancer, and warrants immediate medical attention.
- Unexplained weight loss: If you are experiencing weight loss along with constipation, it could be a cause for concern. Sudden and unintentional weight loss should always be evaluated by a medical professional.
- Family history: If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or other gastrointestinal disorders, it’s important to be proactive about your digestive health. Regular screenings and consultations with a colorectal surgeon may be recommended.
Don’t feel embarrassed – Request a male or female surgeon specialising in colorectal health conditions
Remember, early detection and intervention are crucial in the successful management of colorectal cancer. If you have concerns or are experiencing persistent symptoms, it is important to consult with a colorectal surgeon in Melbourne for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. If you find it easier to discuss these sensitive health issues with a female surgeon, you can request one.