Like its minor form, constipation, Obstipation, can be a very uncomfortable condition for a person to experience or have and it is precisely one thing you can not confide easily to somebody else.
The fact that you have severe issues passing your waste or how hard your fecal was this morning is not precisely the ideal topic for conversation. It is a condition that you should take care of immediately.
What is obstipation?
Regular and proper excretion of waste is essential for maintaining good health. This condition is a common disease that affects approximately 30% of people globally. When constipation takes place, the bowel movement become less frequent or difficult; then an individual has challenges in passing stools.
Obstipation is the severe form of constipation; where the person suffering from it, is unable to pass gas or stool easily typically due to the blockage of hard-to-pass stool. The stools are usually dry, hard, and small in size. They generally are accompanied by cramping, straining and bloating.
Severe constipation is defined as when a person has 3 or 4 bowel movements weekly. The individual suffering from constipation often has full experiences and feeling the need to go often.
When you have obstipation, it is a signal that your constipation is chronic; and if left untreated, it could lead to some serious health issues.
What are the symptoms of obstipation?
For people who frequently deal with obstipation, they need to learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms quickly. This will allow them to take the best action to prevent the problem from worsening; although the symptoms may vary from every person. These are some common symptoms:
- abdominal distention
- A dry, hard fecal matter
- constipation or diarrhea
- difficulty passing gas (accumulation of gas)
- early satiety
- stomach cramping or pain
- malaise or a general feeling of being unwell
- nausea or vomiting
What are the causes of obstipation?
Anything that can cause constipation can also cause obstipation. A lot of underlying conditions, medicines, and even tumor can cause obstipation. They are;
- Not enough water or high-fiber foods
- Intestinal inflammation
- Severe, untreated constipation
- A mass in your abdomen, like a tumor
- Lack of physical activity
- Medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or multiple sclerosis
- Medication used to treat pain, depression, or high blood pressure
- Polyps in the intestine
- Abnormalities in the intestine like when the intestines twist.
- Rectal prolapse
Obstipation is a severe condition that can get worse. If you have this problem, it is crucial you seek treatment immediately; regardless of the cause.
How is obstipation diagnosed?
At the appointment, your doctor will ask about your medical history. Your doctor will ask about any medical conditions and also the symptoms you have. Tell your doctor about any medicines you have taken.
Your doctor will perform a digital examination of your rectum or even vagina to ensure there is no hard stool known as impaction. The doctor will check muscle tone and look for damages or bleeding to your rectum.
You may need any of the following diagnostic tests if your doctor is unable to identify an immediate impaction. These can include:
- Blood Test: This is done to checks for signs of infection, inflammation, or to check kidney function.
- CT scan or an X-ray: These are imaging tests used to take pictures of your intestine. They are used to identify areas of your intestine where may be blocked, obstructed or have any abnormalities
- Colonoscopy: Are used to check for any defects in your intestine or if you have any tissue damage.The procedure involves making use of a thin, long, lighted scope inserted into your rectum to visualize for abnormalities or lining of the intestine. A tiny tissue sample from your bowel and then sent to the laboratory for analysis.
- Barium enema: This is an X-ray analysis or examination that can detect abnormalities or changes in the large intestine (colon). It involves administering a liquid into the rectum through a tube to obtain high contrast X-rays of the large intestine.
- Bowel function testing: These tests are used to check for nerve sensitivity, muscle tone and functioning of the anus and intestines.
Can obstipation cause complications?
It is a severe condition. If a person is unable to pass poop, it can accumulate into the stomach and cause you to fall ill. The blockage could also result in a ruptured bowel.
A perforated bowel or raptured bowel is a deadly condition where the bowel’s content are emptied into the abdominal cavity. Also, this is a surgical emergency that will need immediate treatment to prevent further complications like peritonitis (a severe infection) or maybe death.
What are the treatments for obstipation?
While obstipation symptoms seem to be daunting; there are lots of available treatment options. These measures can offer significant relief from the pains and discomforts brought by severe constipation. Treatment for this condition depends on the severity. Examples of the treatments are:
To improve the movement of the intestines so that poop will move forward or to soften stool, your doctor will prescribe medications
- A suppository: is a solid dosage form which is inserted into your rectum. They are stool softners example Colace.
- Laxatives: These are products that aid lots of people to poop by causing bowel motions. They work by drawing water liquid into the stool to make it softer and then easy to pass.
- An enema: This is an introduction of mineral oil (liquid), through your anus. It is used to clear bowel movement from your rectum.
- Manual removal.
Your doctor may manually remove the stool that is affected close to the rectal opening. The doctor will wear a glove on their hands and applying lubricant on their fingers. The finger(s) will be inserted into the rectum and then manually remove the impacted stool (which is hard and dry).
This procedure will help to get rid of the obstruction and allow for an easy pass of stool.
- Surgical method.
In rare cases, doctors will recommend surgery to remove the impaction or to correct a structural abnormality, like a hernia.
Since the problem is a sign of a chronic health condition or the result of medication, other treatment methods to deal with the underlying cause of the obstipation may be recommended by your doctor.
How can I prevent obstipation?
- Consume a diet high in fiber.
Eating high-fiber foods help to add bulk to your bowel movement and makes it easy for a person to pass. Fiber-rich foods include leafy, green vegetables, raw fruits, beans, and whole grain. It is recommended that adults need to consume at least 20 grams of fiber daily
- Drink plenty of water.
Water (liquids) will help keep your bowel motions soft, and this makes it easier for you to pass.
- Exercise regularly
Make sure you exercise at least 30 minutes every day or more. Exercises help to promote intestinal movements. If you have a tight schedule, simple activities such as walking, jogging, and taking the stair can be beneficial.
When should you see a doctor?
If you haven’t excreted waste in a few days or have other symptoms of obstipation such as:
- Stomach discomfort
- You vomited more than once
- You notice a change in color, consistency, and size of your bowel movement.
- You are losing weight
- You have a fever.
When should I seek immediate care?
A person should seek immediate medical care, if the following symptoms arise in addition to not passing poop:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Abdominal distention
- Bloody or black bowel movements.
This article is for information purpose only.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Intestinal obstruction.
Chronically constipated: are my intestines blocked? (n.d.).