The following are the complications of constipation:
This is the most common complication of constipation. When you strain most of the time in expelling your feces, the small blood vessels around your anus will become dilated and inflamed. This causes hemorrhoids. There are two kinds of hemorrhoids: internal and the external hemorrhoids. In internal hemorrhoid, the dilated blood vessels are still inside the anus; thus, you cannot feel any mass around your anus. However, in the external hemorrhoid, the dilated blood vessels are outside and around your anus. Thus, you can touch and feel the mass.
- Anal fissure
When there is a tear in the inner lining of your anal mucosa, resulting from expelling hard and voluminous stools, then you have what is known as anal fissure. It is a very painful medical condition. Since the pain is aggravated by defecation, you tend to avoid moving your bowel and thus your constipation gets worse. Your problem is further aggravated when the fissure is infected. This medical problem is more common in children than in adults.
- Rectal prolapse
The rectum is the terminal part of your large intestine. Your fecal matter stays here before it is finally expelled to the outside. When you have constipation, the fecal matter in your rectum stays there for some days, and it is hard to move it down. Because of its prolonged stay in the said area, your fecal matter becomes attached to the inner lining of your rectum. Thus, when it is finally expelled due to your forceful straining, the rectum turns itself inside out and come out through the anus. This is called rectal prolapse. When this takes place, you can touch and feel your prolapsed rectum as a soft bulging structure. In some instances, your prolapsed rectum spontaneously returns to its original place; but sometimes you need to push it back inside the hollow of your abdomen through the anus.
Protrusion of organs through the abdominal wall is called hernia. When you strain most of the time in expelling your feces, the intra-abdominal pressure increases, such that a part of your intestine protrudes either in your belly button or in the groin. Worse, it sometimes goes down in the testicular sac.
- Urinary tract infection
If you examine your anatomical parts in your lower abdomen closely, you will notice that your large intestine is in close proximity to your urinary bladder. When you retain large volumes of hard stools in your large intestine, this impinges on your urinary bladder, such that it cannot totally empty its content. Frequent retention of urine in your bladder will promote the development of urinary tract infection.
- Diverticular disease
When the pressure inside your large bowel is chronically increased by constipation, this can cause the development of breakages in the muscular wall of your large intestine. When this takes place, the inner lining of your bowel protrudes and pushes through these defects, and they form small pouches. When these pouches are infected, they cause diverticulitis. This is a serious condition which requires immediate attention and treatment. When you experience fever, abdominal pain, and presence of blood in your stools, then you may have diverticulitis. You need to consult a medical doctor for your treatment.
- Chronic back pain
When you have chronic constipation, you spend a lot of time sitting down over your toilet. When you strain for a long time, that creates significant pressure on your intervertebral discs, such that they move and slide from their original position, impinging on your spinal nerves. This will cause severe pain. In addition, if you have chronic constipation, this will lead to having impacted stools. This will apply significant pressure on your pelvic nerves, causing severe pain.
- Fecal impaction
When your fecal matter stays for so long in your rectum, or any segment of your large intestine, it becomes very much attached to the inner lining of your large bowel such that it is very hard to detach it. The only way you can evacuate the impacted feces is by undergoing an enema, or irrigation through the anal opening. In some cases, however, manual evacuation of the feces is done by medical personnel.
Fecal impaction is very common among the elderly, the disabled, or the bedridden. Initially, it could manifest as a failure to pass stools for many days. However, after some time, you could experience abdominal pain and vomiting. When these take place, your situation has turned into a serious one that necessitates immediate hospitalization.
- Colonic perforation
When your large intestine is very filled with feces for long periods of time, the blood supply for that area becomes compromised. In other words, the amount of blood that could go to the area is reduced, such that the tissue in that segment will inevitably die. If that happens, your large bowel will be perforated, and severe infection could occur in your abdomen. Worse, bleeding inside your abdomen could take place, and the scenario becomes so serious and life threatening that immediate surgical intervention is required. If surgery is not done with dispatch, you may die from it.
- Colonic volvulus
Volvulus is said to have taken place when your intestine twists around itself and the mesentery that supports it. The twisting is brought about by the mass of feces that has been stuck in your intestine for a long time. When volvulus occurs, an obstruction in your intestine is suddenly formed. In addition, if the twisting is so tight that the flow of blood to a segment of the intestine is suddenly cut off, the death of that blood-starved tissue occurs. This will lead to possible perforation, bleeding, and even death if no immediate measures are done.
- Fecal incontinence
Fecal incontinence, also known as bowel incontinence, is the inability to control bowel movements, which leads to the unexpected leakage of feces from your rectum. It could be an occasional leakage which goes along with the passage of your gas or worse, it could be a complete loss of bowel movement.