What causes constipation?


What is constipation?

Constipation bears different meaning for different people. Most frequently it means infrequent stools while for others constipation simply means hard stools, sense of incomplete emptying after bowel movement or difficulty in passing stools. The cause for each of these types of constipation is different.


As a result of irritable bowel syndrome, constipation can alternate with diarrhea. At the end of constipation, fecal impaction occurs in which stool hardens in the rectum and prevents its passage.

Bowel movement decreases with age.Medically, constipation refers to three bowel movements per week. Less than one bowel movement defines severe constipation. There is no evidence that infrequent bowel movement can cause toxin accumulation or cancer.

A prompt action should be taken for acute constipation as the underlying cause may be colon tumors. Constipation also needs immediate assessment when accompanied by worrisome problems like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, nausea, cramps, vomiting and weight loss which may be involuntarily.

Causes of constipation

Constipation can occur when digesting food passes through the colon slowly. Some causes are listed below:

  • Laxative
  • Diet habit
  • Medications
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Diseases of colon
  • Diseases of central nervous system
  • Colonic inertia
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction

Medications which can cause constipation include: anticonvulsants, antidepressants, narcotic pain medications, iron supplements, calcium channel blocking drugs, and aluminium containing antacids. To overcome constipation one should increase the intake of dietary fibers in food.

Bowel movements are actually under voluntary control which means that these movements can be suppressed when urged but it is believed that doing this too frequently can result in the disappearance of urges and consequently constipation results.

Using certain herbs (castor oil) or medicines as laxatives most frequently can cause constipation as laxatives damages the colon muscles that’s why many experts believe that laxatives should be used as a last treatment when non-stimulant treatments have failed.

Hormones can also affect bowel movements. For example, hypothyroidism or too much parathyroid hormone can cause constipation. During woman’s menstrual periods or pregnancy, progesterone and estrogen levels are high and may cause constipation.


Filed Under: General Health

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