There’s no question that constipation is uncomfortable, but is it dangerous? In most cases, no.

Before diving in, what exactly classifies constipation? Medical professionals diagnose it as being unable to pass a bowel movement for more than three days, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz. But, he notes that everyone’s bathroom schedule is different, and if it’s taking longer than normal or if you’re straining about a quarter of the time, then you’re probably constipated.

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Despite maybe feeling like you’re going to die, this common GI problem likely won’t kill you. However, Dr. Oz explains that some people can experience a fatal heart arrhythmia from holding your breath while straining as you poop. This can cause a change in heart rate and blood pressure, which confuses the body. As your system works to correct the problem, it can over-correct, resulting in a heart arrhythmia from high blood pressure and erratic heart rhythm.

Constipation can also lead to gastrointestinal perforation, basically a hole in your large bowel, but these complications are rare and generally only impact the elderly or those with heart conditions, the popular TV doctor claims.

However, chronic constipation can be a sign of bigger problems like hypothyroidism, diabetes, colon disease and irritable bowel disease (IBD), reports Everyday Health.

Most of the time, it can easily be fixed at home. WebMD recommends increasing fiber with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, although you don’t want to go overboard as too much fiber can also make it hard to go to the bathroom. The website also suggests increasing water intake, decreasing soda and coffee consumption and incorporating physical activity into your schedule to deal with constipation. Certain medications like antidepressants, iron supplements and blood pressure medicine can also affect your regularity.

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Of course, if the problem persists, you might want to take a trip to the doctor as prolonged constipation can lead to hemorrhoids and other painful conditions.

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