Constipation | Diagnosis & Tests


How does my doctor diagnose constipation?

Your doctor probably will do a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms. If you have frequent constipation, you can help your doctor by keeping a day-by-day record of your bowel movements. If you are a parent, you may want to keep a record of your child’s bowel movements. In the record, you should include:

  • When you/your child had a bowel movement
  • What the stool looked like, such as its size and consistency, and if there was any blood
  • Any other digestive symptoms you/your child may have, such as stomach pain, loss of appetite, straining during bowel movements, etc.
  • Bathroom habits, such as if you regularly ignore the urge to have a bowel movement, or if it seems like your child is avoiding going to the bathroom

Depending on the frequency and severity of your symptoms, your doctor may also want to do other tests, such as a rectal exam, blood tests, X-rays, or colonoscopy.


See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 08/12
Created: 08/96