What is Obstipation?

Your doctor may have mentioned the term obstipation during one of your consultations.

Or may be you encountered that term while browsing on the internet and trying to understand what type of constipation you have.

And now you wonder what that term means exactly.

What is obstipation?

Sometimes the internet causes more confusion than clarification. I have often encountered this term in medical articles, a term thrown here and there without a clear explanation. Moreover, it seems to mean different things according to different sources.

Here is an attempt to make some sense out of the multiple sources of information out there.

A serious form of constipation

Some sources use this term for a serious form of constipation, or for a chronic form with a diminishing number of defecations as time goes buy, leading to no defecation at all and the need to get hospitalized to solve the situation.

Constipation implies a slow-down of the transit function, whereas obstipation implies a complete stop or loss of the transit function.

A non-responsive form of constipation

Some sources use this term for constipation that does not respond to the different forms of laxatives. I have seen it explained as an “obstinate form of constipation”. When laxatives do not work anymore, things quickly progress toward fecal impaction.

Fecal impaction

According to the Merck Manual, obstipation means “complete obstruction of the bowel”. Which practically means fecal impaction.

This definition seems to be the most often used in the medical establishment.

Middle-ground definition

Those differences do not really matter. We are talking about the same progression of events, and unfortunately the same end-result.

The progression can be described as follows:

  1. Constipation becomes chronic, with a diminishing number of defecations as time goes by. Meanwhile, liquid stools may be able to squeeze by the fecal plug leading to overflow diarrhea (also called encopresis).
  2. The constipation crisis does not respond to any laxatives and therefore can be called “obstinate”.
  3. The constipation crisis eventually leads to fecal impaction, and requires a medical procedure, namely manual disimpaction, possibly accompanied with enemas and oral laxatives.

So all of those definitions are true, and can be interpreted as a snapshot of the same condition (intractable constipation) at different points in time, leading to the same end-result (fecal impaction).

This obviously requires a timely medical intervention. There is a time for gentle natural constipation remedies (for prevention and milder kinds of constipation), and there is a time for more traditional medical procedures.

If you suffer from acute constipation, trust that your medical team will take good care of you. Once you are out of this crisis, then and only then will you be able to put in place a 100% natural constipation remedies program.

Meanwhile, I suggest you read the fecal impaction article, which describes the likely end result of this condition.


Return from Obstipation to the Constipation-remedies-for-all home

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