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When Is Constipation a Medical Emergency?

While gathering information and client comments to prepare for the upcoming launch of our Treating IBS Naturally program, I was quite unnerved by a common problem that I knew people had.  I just wasn’t fully appreciating the seriousness of it.

Constipation is one of the major symptoms of IBS and its severity can range from mild and unnoticeable to debilitating and severe.

A few people shared stories of having battled the constipation for years, and having suffered terribly as a result.

Constipation is quite simply an infrequent or halted bowel pattern.  The effects, however, are anything but simple.

People who have “occasional irregularity” like they describe in the happy sing-songy commercials have probably experienced some irritability, bowel pain, and general inconvenience as a result of their mild constipation.

Others, though, have battled this debilitating symptom in its worst incarnation- not the mild irregularity but rather the full-blown medical emergency.

For some, it’s difficult to think that not being able to move the bowels for a couple of days could constitute an emergency, but it’s not just those couple of days that cause the problem.

If you’ve ever had surgery, you know that in the post-operative instructions you have an item that says to call the doctor right away if you are faced with not moving the bowels for more than 3 days.  For some surgical procedures, you might not even be discharged until you’ve moved your bowels.

You are sent home generally with instructions to increase water intake, add some stool softeners or prune juice, and other tips to “keep things moving.”

But what if it doesn’t work?  That’s why you have to call the doctor, because he or she knows that bad events are on the horizon if you don’t get help right away.

One person who wrote in described his ordeal of having gone to the emergency room because of the excruciating and unbearable pain he experienced.  He had been essentially without movement for 6 days and knew something was wrong but decided to try and “tough it out” at home.

His wife was the one who poured his shaking, sweaty, pale body into the family minivan.  She thought he was having a heart attack.

When they got to the ER and the doctor did his exam, he knew immediately what the problem was.

A simple enema solved his problem, but anyone who has ever had one of those knows it’s no trip to the park undergoing that unpleasant procedure.

What caused his wife to take him in? Simple- he could no longer argue with her and say “No, I’ll be fine.”  He had long passed the point of manly stoicism. He was experiencing a true emergency.

What would have happened if she didn’t act? No one likes to think about that.

So how do you know if your constipation is a true medical emergency?  Signs to look for are below:

  • Severe pain
  • Constipation hasn’t responded to standard treatments
  • Profuse sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of bowel movement for more than 5 or 6 days
  • If you’ve also had recent surgery or anesthesia
  • Sudden onset (i.e., you don’t normally struggle with it, you just suddenly stop movements)
  • Pallor changes (facial color goes from its normal hue to grey and pale

For a true emergency to exist, you don’t have to have all of these characteristics of a severe problem with constipation.  Even just experiencing a lack of bowel movement for more than 5 days in the absence of all the others is enough to require immediate treatment.

The man who wrote in was looking for answers to his chronic constipation, as so many others frequently do.

I found myself offering the same advice to each person, but because bowel conditions had previously fallen outside the scope of my research I wasn’t able to help everyone as I wanted…until now.

I am happy to announce that very soon I will be releasing the program for Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome Naturally and have found someone whose own life has been affected by the terrible effects that come with severe constipation.  In her guide, Julissa Clay describes a comprehensive and easy-to-follow plan to treat IBS naturally.

I will be sending emails soon to announce its release, so keep an eye open for that. As you know, I always add a really great discount onto every launch of a new guide, so be watching for that this week.

But first, I’d really appreciate it if you click the Facebook button below and share this articles with your friends.


  1. Looking forward to the article!

  2. Always good to read your articles

  3. A little help with stopped up constipation in the wake of an emergency I have filled the bath with warm water ,, as warm as the body can stand and lower myself into the water and lay on my side so that all muscles in the area can relax in the warmth and allow some extra stretch of the anus so it does not tear. relax for about 20 mins and try for another bowel movement and I have not yet needed the emergency ward at the hospital.

  4. Hope the natural stuff works. I am in the process of fighting esophageal cancer and have a resulting constipation problem. I do need the natural help.


  6. looking forward to more information on IBS natural handlings. My mom suffers with this. I would love to share your information with her.

  7. I am so glad to see this article. As I child I could never understand why doctors were always so particular in asking if there had been a bowel movement. When I had children of my own I understood it better. As a pet owner I pay attention to the in-out situation, but it wasn’t until I got severely constipated myself I realized just what a problem it is. I was warned when going through chemo treatment for breast cancer that I might become constipated. I did – and could not believe how ill I was. Worse than the chemo, in fact. I had a temperature, pain, tremors, double vision and could barely move. Help was a phone call away, thank goodness, but it was something I conciously had to deal with for the whole 18 week cycle of those chemo treatments.

  8. Simple but educative.

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