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Constipation is a very common condition. Your GP won't usually need to carry out any tests or procedures, but will confirm a diagnosis based on your symptoms and medical history.
Your GP will ask you some questions about your bowel habits. Don't feel embarrassed about discussing this with your GP. It's important they're aware of all of your symptoms, so they can make the correct diagnosis.
Your GP may also ask questions about your diet, level of exercise and whether there have been any recent changes to your routines.
Doctors define constipation in a number of ways:
If your GP thinks you may have faecal impaction (when dry, hard stools collect in your rectum), they may carry out a physical examination. See complications of constipation for more information about faecal impaction.
A typical examination will begin with you lying on your back, while the GP feels your abdomen (tummy). You'll then lie on your side while your GP carries out a rectal examination using a lubricated, gloved finger. Your GP will be able to feel for any stools that may have collected.
An internal physical examination rarely needs to be carried out on a child. Instead, the diagnosis can usually be made by feeling the child's tummy.
If you're experiencing severe symptoms, your doctor may request further tests, such as blood tests or thyroid tests, to diagnose or rule out other conditions.
Other tests you may have include: