Remisier Tay Peng Tong suffered bloating and had trouble passing motion for over two years.
"Whenever I was bloated or felt uncomfortable, I would take a lot of ginger or drinks with ginger to relieve the wind," said the 58-year-old.
It was not until he saw gastroenterologist Gwee Kok-Ann that he found out he had chronic constipation.
One in four Singaporeans suffers from chronic constipation, a study in 2012 found. (See above.)
Yet, not all find relief, as doctors here often miss the subtle signs and symptoms during the early stages.
Prof Gwee, who is also the president of the Asian Neurogastroenterology and Motility Association (ANMA), said doctors often associate bloating and fullness with indigestion.
"In the West and also in medical textbooks, doctors were taught only to look out for signs like fewer than three bowel movements a week, difficulty passing stools that are hard or lumpy, or feeling like your bowel is never completely empty as symptoms of chronic constipation. There was no emphasis on bloating," he said.
"Yet from a survey, conducted by ANMA in India and China, we found the majority of patients (with chronic constipation) suffer from bloating and fullness."
If not caught early, the condition could have a negative impact on sufferers, including absenteeism from work or school, loss of productivity and withdrawal from social activities.
To help ease the pressure, ANMA came up with new guidelines to help doctors here and in Asia better identify, treat and manage the disorder.
"It could take years before a patient receives effective treatment. So doctors should not wait for the patient to complain about infrequent bowel movements. Instead, if a patient complains of bloating, then they should ask about his bowel movement to find a link," Prof Gwee said, adding that restoring normal bowel movement can relieve sufferers from bloating and pain and help them enjoy a normal life.
It has been two months since Mr Tay saw Prof Gwee for treatment.
He said: "Before that, I had turned to fibre drinks and fruits such as papaya for relief. At first they worked but then it returned. It affected my appetite and even my socialising. I couldn't drink water after having had two mugs of beer. It was that bad."
Not wanting Mr Tay to be dependent on the medication, which consists of pills, Prof Gwee said he would be slowly weaned from the medicine once his toilet habits return to normal again.