Constipation: when to consult your doctor?
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Constipation: when to consult your doctor?

Constipation is a very common gastrointestinal disorder but it is not life-threatening. To avoid and fight constipation, dietary measures should be followed and if this is not effective, laxative medication can help.1
So, when should you consult your doctor?

Alarm symptoms that should lead you to consult your doctor1

Constipation: when to consult your doctor

In some cases, constipation can be underlying a more serious disease.

Here are symptoms that shouldn’t be neglected:

Constipation: when to consult your doctor
  • Symptoms of constipation, for more than 3 weeks.
  • Severe symptoms of constipation.
  • Constipation associated with any other concerns such as the presence of blood on the toilet paper, weight loss, fever, weakness.
  • New symptoms or sudden change in bowel habits, lasting for 2 weeks or longer.
  • Constipation associated with colic-like abdominal pain, abdominal distension and vomiting.
  • Constipation caused by prescribed medicines.
  • Failure of over-the-counter treatment to correct the constipation.
  • Regular reliance on stimulant laxatives to achieve bowel movement.

Why should you consult your doctor?

If you suffer from one or more of these alarm symptoms, you should consult your doctor.

In these cases, it is recommended to establish the cause of the constipation. It may be a symptom of another disease (thyroid problems, colon cancer…) or a side effect of a medication.

Your doctor will be able to prescribe suitable medication to help alleviate constipation. Further examination and referral to a specialist may be necessary.

Read also : Laxative medicines

1: Sibanda M, Meyer JC, et al. Chronic constipation in adults. S Afr Pharm J. 2018;85(1):34-42.
2: NHS inform. Constipation. [Internet]. Available from: (Accessed October 2018).