What, there's no constipation thread yet?

There seems to be a thread for pretty much everything else medical (I can’t count the number of colonoscopy threads), but I couldn’t find one for this.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but there’s a “possible TMI” alert.

Anyway, on the advice of my doctor and my blood sugar numbers, I switched to a low-carb diet about two weeks ago. Last Tuesday, what I assume is full-on constipation set in; I kept getting to the point where, er, “it almost made it out, but then it felt like it was bottled up.” It finally relieved itself about 12 hours later, but today it struck again.

First, is this the way constipation usually “works,” (maybe “doesn’t work” is a more accurate description) or could this be something a little more serious?

Second, how long between bowel movements should it be before I should start considering it “serious”?

Any personal stories about similar situations would be welcome.

I tried and tried to start a thread on this, but it just wouldn’t come out.

No constipation threat? No shit!

Did you also reduce your fiber intake?

You know your own bowel habits, and if the change is REALLY drastic, then you need to worry. Otherwise, something like this is not a big deal.

I’ve heard of people who quit the Adkins diet for the same reason. I think a lot of it was that they ate way too much meat…red meat. Too much in proportion to their total intake anyway.

I did reduce my fiber, a little, because most of the fiber I was eating was high-carb - whole grain mac & cheese, whole wheat bread, hamburger buns (who knew that a Burger King double cheeseburger is something like 3g of carbs without the bun, and more like 30g with it?), apple skins, things like that. I did double up on my Metamucil (6g fiber per day instead of 3).

Like I said, I have had this happen to me before, but not twice within a week. Of course, the first time triggered my hemorrhiods, so on subsequent days, it felt like I was passing razor blades, and I had to ease up; that could have something to do with it.

I think a reduction in fiber is a likely consequence of a low-carb diet, regardless of intent. Fiber supplementation would be wise.

As Horace wrote, ‘Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.’

Next question: is it still “constipation” if a little bit comes out at a time, but it still feels like there’s something in there?

Increase the amount of non-starchy veggies you eat, and peruse the drugstore shelves for low-carb fiber supplements, and increase the amount of water you drink. Doing sit-ups every day helps, too. You might want to have a stool softener in the medicine cabinet, too.

Atkins diet books all talk about this and recommend the fiber supplement and extra water. I know from experience that it is necessary advice.

I’ve been eating high fat, low to zero carbohydrates, medium protein for most of the last 41 years, and constipation is always something to watch out for. My go-to remedy is a good dose of sugar-free fiber supplement every couple of days.

I have also had constipation issues when doing low-carb, and it is exactly as you describe. Get a large jar of sugar-free Metamucil or generic equivalent, and drink a large glass of water with a tablespoon of the fiber. Twice a day if you can. (Ramp up to it over several days) Plus more plain water whenever you can. That always helps me.

I once had a bad attack caused by a reaction to surgical anesthetics. I never knew anesthetics could cause that! When I was being discharged after an overnight stay, the nurse asked if I had gone yet and being totally clueless about this side effect I told her no, but didn’t expect any problems because I felt like I would be needing to go soon, but not immediately. I didn’t tell her that, but because I felt that way I said I think I’d be fine.

Yeah, right. Silly me, what the heck did I know?

Three days later and I still hadn’t gone, and I’m in complete agony. I took laxatives and sat in a hot bath for a long, agonizing time. Finally it began to happen, but frankly when you feel majorly blocked up and then it’s about to pass, there’s a bit of fear as to how much it will hurt! That was six years ago and I don’t remember if the passing hurt or not, but I do remember the agony before getting back to regular.

My suggestion for anyone having in-patient surgery – before you’re let go (discharged), make sure that you let one go, before you leave!

Got it, got it (like I said, I upped my daily Metamucil, but I could always use more), got it, riding a stationary bike instead of sit-ups, and got one of those, too. My insurance has 24/7 access to an “advice nurse” that recommended 8-10 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

Literally breaking news: the “flood gate opened” a couple of hours ago…
I’ll put the TMI bit in a spoiler block:

but for some strange reason, one end of the stool that came out was almost black

Obligatory Screamin’ Jay Hawkins link

Magnesium solved the problem for me. I keep a bottle handy.

I’ll second the magnesium. I need to take it for another reason, but it will sure get things moving.

Er, only if you want them to administer nastiness… or you want to be kept there longer!! My MIL told me that after one of her kids was born, the rule was “you can’t leave until you’ve pooped”. She lied to the nurse and got out of there.

The narcotics you often get as part of surgery - even if you don’t need painkillers after - can play hell with the digestive system. Fentanyl is often used in the OR. I’d forgotten about that, a couple weeks ago when I had cataract surgery. A couple days later, things were… unpleasant, and I finally realized why. After wrist surgery earlier in the year, I knew of the effect, and added fiber supplements etc. to try to manage it, with partial success. After abdominal surgery 8 years back, I also knew - but rummaging around your innards just adds to the fun. My husband had knee surgery this spring and quit his narcotics days before he should have, just because of the constipation.

For the OP: yeah, you need to find alternate means of getting fiber. Veggies that are low-carb-acceptable should be a big help. Carrots aren’t that low-carb, but if you keep baby carrots around and nosh on them regularly, your gut will help - and those carbs come with good vitamins as well. Also make sure you drink a lot of liquid.

This thread would not have been complete without a post from Mama Zappa.

Throw some tuna into your diet. Or salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines…