How is a health history interview conducted in the diagnosis of constipation?

Updated: Jul 04, 2019
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

The history should begin with a detailed inquiry into the patient’s normal pattern of defecation, the frequency with which the current problem differs from the normal pattern (eg, “missing a day”), the perceived hardness of the stools, whether the patient strains in order to defecate, and any other symptoms the patient may be experiencing.

An inquiry concerning the amount of time spent on the toilet while waiting to defecate may also be illuminating. Patients should be asked to describe in detail what happens when they try to defecate and what maneuvers (pharmacologic or physical) they have used to facilitate this process. The answers to these questions may suggest chronic laxative abuse or less common causes, such as colonic outlet obstruction.


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