Constipation can have psychological consequences

  • A constipated person feels bloated, sluggish and irritable.
  • The activities of a constipated child are also suboptimal and they have a low appetite.
  • The fecal soiling of underwear gives a feeling of low esteem to these children.

The physical complications of persistent constipation are

  • Constant straining while passing stools can lead to development of haemorroids (piles) and later on, rectal bleeding.
  • Straining over prolonged periods can cause protrusion of intestines through weaker areas of abdominal muscles leading to formation of hernia.
  • A hard stool can peel off a portion of intestinal lining during its passage. This can cause bleeding and excruciating pain while passing stools. This painful condition is known as ‘anal fissure’ and takes a long time to heal.
  • Rarely, the hard stools can get impacted and cause features of intestinal obstruction. These include, vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain and failure to even pass gas.
  • Urinary tract infections (a loaded colon can be a cause of ineffective voiding of urine. The urinary stasis in turn, can lead to urinary infections).
  • Poor growth in children is due to decreased appetite.
  • Indigestion is due to excessive gas formation and obstruction to flow of intestinal contents.

Treatment of complications

All these complications make the visit to the attending physician/surgeon mandatory

  • Fecal impaction might require glycerine/peroxide enema (already described) or digital manual removal of hard stools by the surgeon.
  • Anal fissure needs treatment with regime of Sitz bath / Hip bath (providing hot fomentation to the damaged mucosa), use of lubricating anesthetic gel and stool softening agents.
  • Piles and hernia also need surgical treatment.