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Urgent Care Services

Constipation Diagnosis and Treatment

In Benicia, Napa and Sonoma

Get Quick Relief for Constipation in Napa, Solano

and Sonoma County

If you live or work near our clinics in Napa, Benicia and Sonoma or are visiting the Wine Country, Urgent Care + Telehealth clinics provide a nearby and cost-effective option to treat constipation. Whether you have concerns about acute or chronic constipation, our experienced providers are here to help. We have highly experienced providers and are managed by an emergency room physician with over 25 years of experience. Our goal at Urgent Care + TeleHealth is to make health care easy and affordable so that we can help our patients feel better fast.

We accept most insurance plans and visits here are significantly less expensive than going to an emergency room. Plus, you’ll usually be seen much more quickly compared to an ER visit.  We have an easy online system for scheduling appointments at our clinics or for a telehealth video visit. You can also visit our clinics without any prior appointment. 

 Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints that we treat at Urgent Care + TeleHealth. If you are suffering from constipation, know that you are not alone! Almost 2.5 million people visit doctors with a complaint of constipation in a single year. Anyone can have an occasional bout of constipation and it often resolves on its own or after we provide treatment. Frequent or chronic constipation is a problem because it affects your ability to function. 

How do you know if you have constipation? According to medical literature, constipation is a decreased bowel frequency of fewer than three bowels a week. However, this is a flexible definition because bowel habits vary from person to person. Some people have 2-3 bowels daily, while others have only 3-4 weekly.

Some additional factors, such as bowel consistency and straining when you visit the bathroom, are other factors that are considered while diagnosing constipation. Urgent Care + Telehealth clinics are convenient options for consulting a doctor for constipation discomfort. 


How We Help

  • Come on in without an appointment – even on the weekend!
  • If you can’t make it, get advice with an easy video visit.
  • We take most insurance plans. 
  • No insurance? We offer cash-pay discounts.
  • Use your HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flexible Spending Account).
  • We offer an easy online appointment system.

Urgent Care + TeleHealth is managed by Dr. Ian Ahwah, an emergency medicine physician with 25 years of clinical experience treating patients at urgent care and in area emergency rooms. Our doctors, medical providers and support staff treat you with dignity and protect your privacy.

Dr. Ian Ahwah, Emergency Medicine Physician

Brittany Bellows, PA, Clinical Manager

Constipation FAQ

When should I visit a doctor for constipation?

Constipation is defined as having fewer than the usual bowel movements a week. Having three bowel movements can be considered normal in a person who usually has three bowel movements a week in the absence of any other symptoms.

On the other hand, it is a matter of concern if you have five bowel movements a week instead of the usual seven, especially in the presence of additional symptoms such as abdominal pain.

In case of occasional constipation without additional symptoms, you can manage it with certain diet changes.

However, you should consult a healthcare provider at Urgent Care + TeleHealth if you have chronic constipation (more than four weeks), disturbing your routine activities. The provider will evaluate the underlying cause of constipation and recommend treatment.

In certain cases, lifestyle and diet changes are recommended. On the other hand, chronic constipation can be due to some underlying disease. You should also visit a doctor for acute constipation, starting suddenly if you have no bowel movements or have any of the following symptoms in addition to constipation.

  1. Blood in the stool
  2. Severe abdominal pain
  3. Nausea and severe vomiting
  4. Family history of colonic cancer
What are the causes of constipation?

The causes of constipation have a wide range. Some diets or lifestyles can increase the likelihood that people will have constipation. People who eat a low-fiber diet, do not drink enough water, lead a stressful life, resist the bowel urge or live a sedentary lifestyle are likely to get constipation.

Additionally, many people get constipation from medication side effects. In these situations, doctors can provide guidance about these medications and may suggest laxatives. Many endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism, and diabetes, cause constipation. Local diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and intestinal obstruction, cause constipation which is always associated with other gastrointestinal tract symptoms such as bloody stool or abdominal pain.

What are the Common Symptoms of Constipation?

Chronic constipation due to diet and lifestyle often presents with fewer than usual stools, cramps, bloating, dry and hard stools, and difficulty in defecation. On the other hand, diseases of the gastrointestinal system, such as intestinal obstruction, also have additional symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, blood in stools, vomiting, and dehydration.

If you have constipation, you may also experience general lethargy and decreased focus at work or on daily activities.

How Does a Doctor Treat Constipation?

Our first goal will be to help you feel better.  There are several types of laxatives we may prescribe, and each of them works differently. As said above, they don’t have significant side effects. Your provider may also prescribe any of the following medicines:

  1. Fiber supplements such as psyllium and calcium polycarbophil will increase stool bulk.
  2. Gastrointestinal stimulants bisacodyl and sennasides will increase the motility of the gut.
  3. Osmotics such as magnesium hydroxide or lactulose increase GI secretions and make stools soft.
  4. Lubricants such as mineral oil or stool softeners such as docusate calcium will make stool easy to pass through the intestine.

We’ll also want to help you avoid constipation in the future. The treatment of constipation may include recommended lifestyle changes, diet changes, and medications. Your provider will ask you about exercise and advise you not to resist your bowel urge because it increases bowel movement and relieves constipation.

He or she will advise you to eat more fruits, leafy vegetables, and other foods containing high amounts of dietary fiber, which makes stool bulkier and relieves constipation.

Besides diet and lifestyle changes, your doctor will also prescribe you some drugs that have almost no side effects.

Surgery is considered in some unusual cases of constipation when the underlying disease is a local gastrointestinal tract disease that needs immediate management.

The diseases which demand surgical correction of the gastrointestinal tract to relieve constipation and other associated symptoms includes GI stenosis, intestinal obstruction, infarction, or colorectal cancer.

How Can I Avoid Constipation?

In most cases, constipation is related to inappropriate diet choices and lifestyle. If you make little changes in diet and lifestyle, you are less likely to get constipation.

The most important thing to prevent constipation is the intake of high-fiber diets such as fruits, leafy vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, and cereals. Intake of a high-fiber diet makes stool bulk and softens it, reducing the risk of constipation. The second important thing to prevent constipation is proper hydration. The stool consistency depends on its water content. If you stay hydrated, the stool consistency will be soft, and constipation will be prevented.

Another helpful way to prevent constipation is regular exercise. Exercise increases gastrointestinal mobility and prevents constipation. You are also advised not to resist the bowel urge because it can cause constipation in the long run.

  1. Forootan, M., Bagheri, N., & Darvishi, M. (2018). Chronic constipation: A review of literature. Medicine, 97(20), e10631. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000010631
  2. Gray J. R. (2011). What is chronic constipation? Definition and diagnosis. Canadian journal of gastroenterology = Journal canadien de gastroenterologie, 25 Suppl B(Suppl B), 7B–10B.
  3. Diaz S, Bittar K, Mendez MD. Constipation. [Updated 2022 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513291/
  4. Collins, B. R., & O’Brien, L. (2015). Prevention and management of constipation in adults. Nursing standard (Royal College of Nursing (Great Britain) : 1987), 29(32), 49–58. https://doi.org/10.7748/ns.29.32.49.e9571
  5. Costilla, V. C., & Foxx-Orenstein, A. E. (2014). Constipation in adults: diagnosis and management. Current treatment options in gastroenterology, 12(3), 310–321. https://doi.org/ 10.1007/s11938-014-0025-8


What They Say

Friendly and efficient staff! Made an appointment the night before, easy process. Good location too.

I was greeted promptly and taken back in a timely manner. Both the assistant and the PA were friendly and professional. I’m very happy with the care I received.

Really nice people there and very professional services. I highly recommend!

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