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Everyone experiences constipation once in a while 3. When constipation occurs for an extended period, however, it can lead to an impacted bowel, which is a much more serious condition that often requires disimpaction by a medical professional 3. It's not possible to cleanse a colon that is already impacted; however, a healthy diet will play a role in preventing a recurrence.

Constipation and Impacted Bowel

Constipation occurs for many reasons — a low-fiber diet, dehydration, sedentary lifestyle, overuse of laxatives, medication side effects and more 3.cause:

  • Constipation occurs for many reasons — a low-fiber diet
  • dehydration
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • overuse of laxatives
  • medication side effects
  • more 3

It can also be a symptom of a health condition affecting the digestive tract, brain or spinal cord. According to Harvard Health, treatment for constipation is the reason for more than 2.5 million doctor's office visits each year in the United States 13.

Impacted Colon Symptoms

Distended Colon Symptoms

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If you have an impacted colon, you will probably know it — or at least know that something more than mere constipation is occurring 3. Symptoms of fecal impaction may include:

  • Pain in the abdomen, especially after eating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • A persistent urge to defecate
  • Liquid stool that is leaking around the impacted mass (may be mistaken for diarrhea)
  • A generally sick feeling

These are significant symptoms compared to those of constipation, which include 3:

  • Having fewer than three bowel movements in a week
  • Stools that are small, dry, hard and difficult to pass. as well as being painful
  • Feeling like you have to strain excessively to have a bowel movement
  • Feeling that your rectum has not been emptied after a bowel movement

Most cases of constipation can be diagnosed and treated at home 3. Fecal impaction requires a doctor's visit, during which your doctor will confirm the diagnosis with an exam and additional testing if required. Typically, your doctor will manually remove part of the mass, then remove the rest with an enema, Harvard Health Publishing explains 1. It's important to note that, although enemas are available over the counter, administering one at home to clear a fecal impaction is both ineffective and potentially dangerous.

Read more: 7 Signs Your Gut Is Out of Whack

Preventing Constipation and Impaction

The recommended dietary intake for fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men each day. To reach these recommendations, include more high-fiber foods in your diet, such as:

  • beans
  • whole grains
  • fruits
  • vegetables

Increase your fiber intake gradually to avoid bloating and gas.

The Wrap Up

Everyone experiences constipation once in a while. It's not possible to cleanse a colon that is already impacted; however, a healthy diet will play a role in preventing a recurrence. Constipation occurs for many reasons — a low-fiber diet, dehydration, sedentary lifestyle, overuse of laxatives, medication side effects and more.cause: Constipation occurs for many reasons — a low-fiber diet, dehydration, sedentary lifestyle, overuse of laxatives, medication side effects, more.

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