4 Side Effects of Constipation

A stick figure sitting on toilet paper to represent the side effects of constipation

Most people have dealt with constipation at one point or another, but when constipation becomes chronic, it can take a toll on your digestive health and quality of life. While typical constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, chronic constipation is generally defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stool that persists for a prolonged period of time. In this blog, we will discuss some of the leading causes and potential side effects of constipation, as well as what you can do to treat or prevent chronic constipation.

What causes constipation?

There are various causes that can lead to constipation. Certain health conditions that affect the nerves around the colon and rectum can cause dysfunction in the muscles that allow stool to move through the intestines. Other conditions, such as thyroid problems, pregnancy, or diabetes, can affect the hormones, leading to an imbalance of fluids in the body. Problems with the pelvic muscles, blockages in the rectum or colon, or even stress and anxiety may lead to chronic constipation. Ultimately, treatment depends on the underlying cause, though a specific cause may not be able to be identified in some cases.

Possible side effects of constipation

In addition to the discomfort commonly associated with constipation, chronic constipation may lead to more serious side effects such as:

Anal fissures

Anal fissures can occur while passing hardened stool or straining excessively, leading to tears around the anus. While anal fissures are typically harmless, they have the potential to become infected.


Straining while using the restroom is one of the leading causes of hemorrhoids, a condition where the veins around the anus become swollen and inflamed. Hemorrhoids may make passing stool even more difficult and painful. 

Rectal prolapse

Rectal prolapse is a condition in which part of the rectum, or even the entire rectum, protrudes from the anus. Treatment for rectal prolapse typically requires surgery.

Fecal impaction

When you’re not regularly passing stool, it can build up and stick to the walls of your intestines, leading to a blockage in the intestine. This impaction may lead to pain or vomiting and may require medical attention.

How to prevent constipation

When it comes to treating chronic constipation, we recommend you start by slowly increasing your fiber intake and activity level. Exercise promotes muscle activity in your intestines, and fiber from fruits and vegetables can help get you regular. Other over-the-counter stool softeners and stimulants may also help get things moving. If these at-home remedies aren’t effective, contact us at Birmingham Gastroenterology. We will provide you with a personalized diagnosis and discuss the right treatment plan for you.

Contact Birmingham Gastroenterology

If you are experiencing issues with your digestive system, contact the team at Birmingham Gastroenterology Associates. We can diagnose digestive problems and work with you to help your digestive system regain its normal function. If you have questions about chronic constipation or its side effects, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.

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