Constipation Symptoms

How to tell if you are constipated

Constipation presents a variety of symptoms. To decide if you have constipation, consider three areas:

  • frequency of bowel movements
  • quality of stool
  • associated symptoms

Frequency of Bowel Movements

You may have constipation if there is a variation from your normal pattern of bowel movements. However, when it comes to stool elimination, remember that wide variations are considered "normal". Some people pass stool several times a day, while others do so every few days. Whenever your normal pattern of bowel elimination slows down, you may be experiencing constipation.

Quality of Stool

Normal stools are fairly soft and easy to eliminate. When constipated, your stools become hard and dry. This makes it difficult and painful to empty your bowels partially or fully.

Associated Constipation Symptoms

Other symptoms associated with constipation include straining hard during bowel movements. Because the stool have become small, hard, and dry, they are difficult to expel from the body. Furthermore, even after spending time in the bathroom, you may still feel that your bowels are blocked or that you haven't emptied your bowels fully. You may have to assume an abnormal position on the toilet in order to create greater pressure while trying to defecate. You could also be forced to use your fingers on your anus to help coax the stool out of the rectum. The entire process could make you feel fatigued. The backed- up, dried feces that remain in the bowel can lead to gas, abdominal bloating, and pressure in the belly. In addition, you could experience a lack of appetite, fatigue, indigestion, a rumbling sound in the belly, or even vomiting.


Although constipation causes discomfort and pain, it is usually not serious. Most people around the world find relief in a few days, through dietary improvements, exercise, lifestyle changes, laxatives, suppositories, or enemas. However, in a few rare cases, constipation can lead to more serious complications.

The following are some of the warning signs to look out for if constipation persists. See your doctor immediately if these symptoms appear. Fecal impaction refers to hardening of the stool to such an extent that it cannot be passed naturally through the rectum. In such cases, the doctor will have to reach in with gloved fingers and remove part of the hardened stool manually. This procedure is sometimes carried out under anesthesia. Thin, ribbon-like stool could be observed if there is a partial blockage of the rectum. Rectal prolapse occurs when rectal tissue is pushed out of the anus. This could lead to mucus being secreted from the anus.

Hemorrhoids develop when a small portion of the anal lining gets pushed out of the rectum. They are caused by the added straining and pressure associated with constipation. Hemorroids are usually sensitive and painful and may even rupture and bleed. Cracks or fissures can develop around the anus, caused by the hardened stool being passed. In some cases, this damaged tissue may have to be removed.

In addition, constipation requires medical assessment if it is accompanied by rectal bleeding. The backed up, hardened fecal matter in the bowels could cause severe abdominal pain. Prolonged constipation could ensue, perhaps longer than one or two weeks. Occasionally, a person may experience alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, which might be an indication of irritable bowel syndrome. If you experience symptoms such as cramps, nausea, and vomiting, alongside the constipation, you should contact a doctor right away. Aside from many of the symptoms mentioned above, chronic constipation can lead to a number of undesirable side effects, such as bad breath, body odour, moodiness, and excessive fatigue. Acute constipation, on the other hand, requires urgent medical attention because it could be a sign of a grave underlying condition or illness.