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Constipation & Diarrhea

Constipation & Diarrhea services offered in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary, Clayton, Wilson, Henderson, Smithfield and Fuquay-Varina, NC

Constipation & Diarrhea

About Constipation & Diarrhea

No one ever thinks they'll end up seeing a doctor for constipation or diarrhea, but these common problems often cause severe discomfort and can lead to complications like hemorrhoids and fecal impaction. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Wake Endoscopy have helped many patients overcome constipation and diarrhea and prevent future problems. To schedule an appointment, call the office nearest you or request an appointment online today. Their offices are conveniently located in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary, Clayton, and Wilson, North Carolina. 

Constipation & Diarrhea Q&A

What are constipation and diarrhea?

Constipation is broadly defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. However, everyone has different bowel habits. As a result, constipation is different for each person.

Some people go to the bathroom once daily. Others may have several bowel movements daily or only a few each week. Constipation occurs when you have fewer bowel movements than normal and you have symptoms such as:

  • Hard, pellet-like stools
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Difficulty having a bowel movement
  • Straining to have a bowel movement
  • Feeling like you can't empty your bowels
  • Abdominal cramping and bloating

Diarrhea is the opposite of constipation, causing watery, loose stools. 

What causes constipation and diarrhea?

Constipation commonly occurs if you don't consume enough dietary fiber or fluids or you resist the urge to have a bowel movement. Many types of medications may also interfere with your bowel habits.

Health conditions that lead to constipation and/or diarrhea include:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Blocked colon
  • Colon cancer
  • Underactive thyroid gland
  • Neurological conditions
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Bacterial and viral infections
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Constipation and diarrhea are among the top problems associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

When should I seek help for constipation or diarrhea?

Temporary changes in bowel habits are common when you pick up a stomach virus or eat something that doesn't agree with your digestive tract.

However, you should seek an evaluation if you have constipation or diarrhea that doesn't improve or you experience any of the following symptoms: 

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Black or bloody stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Bloated, rigid abdomen

Without treatment, constipation can lead to complications such as impacted stool, hemorrhoids, and anal fissures. Diarrhea could prevent proper nutrient absorption and may cause dehydration.

How are constipation and diarrhea treated?

The best treatment depends on the cause and severity of your constipation or diarrhea. Your provider may recommend:

Dietary changes

In addition to relieving constipation, increasing your fluid and fiber consumption goes a long way toward preventing future problems.


Laxatives work in different ways to help you have a bowel movement:

  • Bulk-forming laxatives (increase stool weight)
  • Osmotic laxatives (draw water from the colon into stool)
  • Lubricant laxatives (use mineral oil to soften stool)
  • Stimulant laxatives (trigger muscles that push stool through your colon)

Diarrhea medications help to firm the stool. You might need antibiotics or anti-parasitics for an infection. 

Enemas and suppositories

You may need an enema or suppository to help soften impacted stool. However, your provider may need to manually remove severely impacted stool and then follow up with an enema.

Though no one likes to discuss constipation and diarrhea, you shouldn't hesitate to talk with a gastroenterologist. To schedule an appointment, call the Wake Endoscopy location nearest you or request a consultation online today.