Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation include:
- Passing fewer than three stools a week
- Having lumpy or hard stools
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Feeling as though there's a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
- Feeling as though you can't completely empty the stool from your rectum
- Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum
Constipation may be considered chronic if you've experienced two or more of these symptoms for the last three months.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience unexplained and persistent changes in your bowel habits.
Aug. 31, 2013
- Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 16, 2013.
- Bharucha AE, et al. American Gastroenterological Association technical review on constipation. Gastroenterology. 2013;144:218.
- Constipation. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation/index.aspx. Accessed July 16, 2013.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 16, 2013.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Aug. 5, 2013.
- Britten P (expert opinion). USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Alexandria, Va. May 20, 2011.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 21, 2013.
- Picco MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. Aug. 16, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.