A 16-year-old girl’s life was cut short after she suffered from heart attack following eight weeks without a bowel movement.
Emily Titterington, who suffers from mild autism, had a phobia of toilets and had dealt with bowel issues for most of her life. A medical inquest into her death revealed that her chest cavity was compressed while her organs were displaced as a result of her enlarged bowel.
According to general practitioner Alistair James, Emily’s death could have been avoided if she underwent the right treatment. Although James prescribed laxatives, Emily refused medical treatment allegedly due to a fear of medical examinations.
For Dr. Frank R. Malkin, it’s not uncommon to see young people not to pass through for weeks, but Emily’s case was very unusual.
“It’s not uncommon to see young people in their teens or twenties come in and say they haven’t gone to the bathroom in two weeks, but they can take stool softeners or fiber pills, or we find some other form of treatment if necessary. Eight weeks without going to the bathroom, then dying from that, is very unusual,” Dr. Malkin explained.
The probability of stool withholding for adults is quite low since adults are aware that they should be pooping on a regular basis. Still, Dr. Malkin warned that we should be on the lookout for regular constipation particularly if your schedule deviates from your norm.
“Some people go once a day, others go two or three times a day, and some people go every three or four days. If your normal routine changes, then it’s time to see a doctor,” Dr. Malkin added.