Diarrhea and constipation
Diarrhea and constipation are the most common conditions in gastroenterology. Most of the time, although very annoying, they are benign entities that will not shorten the lives of patients. Its causes are multiple and require, frequently, exhaustive studies by the specialist.
The causes of these conditions are multiple and may need different approaches. One of the most common causes is irritable digestive syndrome, which can be related to both conditions and is discussed in another section of this page.
Constipation is a common complaint in the general population. On many occasions, it is simply due to the patient having a slow intestinal transit, however other causes that can be potentially dangerous, or that can be effectively resolved, must be ruled out.
The study to be done on constipated people is the colonoscopy. However, if there are no factors that alert about an important pathology, the study in young people could be postponed and clinical management can be given, of course after a complete medical evaluation.
Patients have a tendency to self-medicate for constipation and this practice is potentially dangerous for them. There are substances in common use, such as “cáscara sagrada” (widely used in macrobiotic products) that are harmful to the colon. Other laxatives cause the colon to become accustomed, so it is best to consult directly with the specialist.
Diarrhea can have many causes. Sometimes they are infectious and it should be considered whether an antibiotic or other therapy is required to treat it. Sometimes they are due to factors such as drugs that the patient takes, or because the patient no longer has a gallbladder or multiple causes.
Chronic diarrhea persists for many days and requires multiple medical studies to rule out the causes of greater risk for the patient, such as inflammatory bowel disease (UC or Crohn’s), a tumor, or celiac disease.
Gastroenterologists take patients with chronic diarrhea and study them thoroughly to determine their final diagnosis and give the appropriate treatment.
The study of diarrhea is usually complex but it is very important to do it thoroughly. Sometimes the cause ends up being a food allergy and must be managed by allergies after allergy skin tests. We consider all this in our usual consultation.