Constipation Specialist

Westside Gastroenterology

Gastroenterologists located in Upper West Side, New York, NY

At West Side Gastroenterology on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Dr. Jaffin provides safe, effective treatment for chronic constipation in patients from throughout New York City, helping them relieve symptoms and feel more comfortable quickly.

Constipation Q & A

What causes constipation?

Constipation is not uncommon; nearly everyone experiences constipation at some point in their lives, and usually it resolves fairly quickly and doesn't recur for sometime. But when constipation occurs on a regular basis and lasts for three or more weeks, it can be a sign of a more serious condition. While mild constipation can result from poor dietary choices, including lack of fiber, chronic constipation usually occurs as a result of:

  • a blockage in the colon or rectum, including cancer

  • neurological issues that affect the nerves of the colon or rectum, including stroke and multiple sclerosis

  • diseases and conditions that affect hormones, including diabetes and thyroid disease

  • problems affecting the muscles of the colon or rectum

How is constipation treated?

Treatment begins with changes in your diet, including adding more fiber and increasing your fluid intake to help encourage normal movement within the bowel. Fiber supplements may also be prescribed. In addition, medications like laxatives and stool softeners may also be used. Although you can use an over-the-counter laxative for occasional diarrhea, ongoing use of over-the-counter laxatives can be dangerous. If you find yourself reaching for laxatives often, schedule an office visit so you can be evaluated.

Can constipation be dangerous?

Constipation can cause fecal impaction, a painful condition that occurs when bowel movement accumulates and hardens in the bowel. Hemorrhoids and anal fissures (small tears around the anus) can also develop as a result of straining to pass stools or from passing stools that are hard and dry.

How can I tell when I need to be evaluated?

Chronic constipation is defined as having three or fewer bowel movements each week for three or more weeks. However, any time you feel uncomfortable as a result of problems moving your bowels, you should be evaluated to ensure it's not a sign of something more serious.