While constipation is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week, chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools that persists for several weeks or longer.
Though occasional constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation that can interfere with their ability to go about their daily tasks. Chronic constipation may also cause excessive straining to have a bowel movement and other signs and symptoms.
Symptoms of chronic constipation include:
- Passing fewer than three stools a week
- Having lumpy or hard stools
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Feeling as though there's a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
- Feeling as though you can't completely empty the stool from your rectum
Treatment for chronic constipation will usually begin with diet and lifestyle changes meant to increase the speed at which stool moves through your intestines. If those changes don't help, your doctor may recommend medications or surgery.