Are There Medical Tests To Diagnose Constipation?

Published on October 27, 2015

Constipation can happen to anyone and is a common condition. To confirm diagnosis of constipation, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and gather information about your medical history. Chronic constipation, on the other hand, could require some specific tests for diagnosis.

In a 1997 epidemiology of constipation study, finding revealed that constipation accounted for over 2.5 million doctor visits and 92,000 hospital stays in the US annually. Some symptoms combined with constipation that could indicate a more serious condition, according to Australian Prescriber, which include:

  • Recent or Acute Constipation
  • Rectal loss of mucus, blood or melena
  • Obstipation (severe or complete constipation)
  • Rectal Pain
  • Fever
  • Change in the Calibre of Stool
  • Weight Loss
  • Nausea, Vomiting, or Anorexia
  • Family History of Colorectal Cancer or Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Long duration, recurrent problems that are not relieved with laxative tablets or a natural remedy for constipation could indicate a functional colorectal disorder. Sudden alarming symptoms mentioned above could prompt the exclusion of neoplastic disease or organic illness.

Patient History

When patients first approach their physicians with symptoms of constipation, doctors ask them to describe their bowel habits. This includes if they feel complete evacuation or experience an urge to defecate.

Using the Bristol Stool Scale, patients might be asked by their doctors to describe the consistency and size of their stool. They will be asked about family history, and if certain conditions run in the family such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Other approaches, such as the use of constipation questionnaires or stool diaries, might be utilized to better understand symptoms.

Medical Tests

If the patient’s constipation is chronic, severe, and accompanied by other symptoms, primary care physicians and gastroenterologists may recommend one or more of the following tests are performed.

1. Sigmoidoscopy. A flexible, lighted tube is inserted by your doctor into your anus to examine the lower colon portion and rectum.

2. Colonoscopy. A flexible, camera-equipped tube is used by the doctor for examining the entire colon.

3. Anorectal Manometry. A flexible, narrow tube is inserted by the doctor into your rectum and anus where a small balloon is inflated at the tip of the tube. The doctor then pulls the device back inside the sphincter muscle, which allows them to measure muscle coordination when you are moving your bowels.

4. Colonic Transit Study. The doctor has a patient swallow a capsule, which contains markers and can be seen on X-rays taken over a few days. The test will reveals signs of intestinal muscle dysfunction, as well as how well food is moved through the colon.

5. Defecography. The doctor will insert a soft barium paste into your rectum that you will then pass much like you would a stool. X-rays show the barium and could reveal if there are problems with muscle coordination, muscle function, and prolapse.

The best way to avoid simple constipation is to make sure you include plenty of fibre, unprocessed foods, and a wide range of appropriate roughage in your diet. In some cases, it might take more than good bowel habits and high fibre foods to cure constipation. When this happens, you might need to take a laxative such as Dulcolax® for constipation relief.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your Healthcare Professional.

Learn about which Dulcolax product may be appropriate for you.

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