Constipation? I Have Two Questions

“There’s Nothing Like a good Bowel Movement” made the point that chronic constipation is all too common and distressing among seniors. In the past, doctors defined constipation as having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week. Anything else was considered “normal”…hmmm…really?? Obviously, the patient was much more uncomfortable than the physician. We now evaluate constipation more broadly, starting with the patient’s perspective. Here are two important questions: Question 1: What bothers the patient the most? Different answers mean different problems. A. It’s very painful to have a bowel movement. Sometimes only small pieces of stool […]

There’s Nothing Like a Good Bowel Movement

There are 3 questions that I always ask my patients. They are about “E, S, B&M”: How well are you eating? How well are you sleeping? How are your bowel movements? These are questions that patients are glad I ask. They show that I care about life’s most basic needs. It’s a doctor’s more specific way of asking “how are you doing?” ESBM are important in childhood, adult life and as people get older. The answers to these questions are “life” vital signs. Just like heart rate or respiratory rate, they give me clues about […]