Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Are small stools a sign of constipation?"
My stools are small ? does that mean there's a problem? I mean, is it the same thing as constipation? It seems like a strange thing to worry about, but other people in my family are definitely complicated and I know it has caused them trouble over the long term.
Constipation is a symptom that includes infrequent stools, or stools that are hard to pass. Having small stools can cause constipation if that means that you retain stool in the colon that should be evacuated. On the other hand if your stools are long, but very thin, this could be a sign of an obstruction in the colon that needs to be evaluated. Constipation has many different causes. Patient's can get constipated from eating too little fiber, drinking inadequate amounts of fluids, voluntarily retaining stool out of fear of defecation, or from medications such as opioid pain killers. Treatment starts with alterations in diet if necessary and possibly the addition of a stool softener like Docusate (colace). If symptoms continue, laxatives can be tried. My advise is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can perform one of several diagnostic maneuvers to determine if you are constipated. These will include a history of recent bowel movements, a physical exam of the abdomen, possibly a rectal exam, and/or possibly an abdominal x-ray. On the other hand, your doctor may decide to simply treat your symptoms with stool softeners anyway. Either way, you'll get to the bottom of your problem. Good luck.
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