Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What is colonic inertia?"


I'm a 28 yr old man and I have had a lot of trouble having regular bowel movements. When I finally discussed this with my doctor, he listened to my description of the problem and said it might be a problem with colonic inertia. What is the likelihood that this is actually a disease I have? What's the best way to treat it?


Colonic inertia is not a medical term, but it likely refers to a problem with the motility in your large intestine. Inertia is a term used in physics to describe the way that objects typically stay at rest unless a force acts on them to cause movement. The entire digestive tract makes regular, coordinated contractions to propel food through the system.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Primary care-doctors near you

These contractions are stimulated by distention, so the best way to treat constipation is to increase the volume of stool. However, if you just eat more food, the extra nutrients will be absorbed in the small intestine before they can stimulate the colon (large intestine). Therefore, you should increase the indigestible fiber in your diet, along with plenty of water to keep stool from becoming too firm. Fiber can be found in fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (wheat bread, brown rice, other unprocessed grains), and some dietary supplements. If you have further questions or concerns regarding your bowel habits, you should make an appointment to discuss them with your doctor. He can review your diet and medications, which will likely give further clues about the cause of your constipation. If you develop rectal bleeding, dark stools, severe constipation, or other alarming symptoms, you should call your doctor or go to the emergency department immediately.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.