Fact Checked

Bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass are called constipation. It’s common cause of painful defecation. It is a symptom, not a disease that may require effective treatment.  Serious constipation includes obstipation and fecal impaction that can progress to bowel obstruction and become life-threatening.

Constipation is an indication with many causes. The causes have two types:

  1. Atonic Constipation – results from reduced muscle tone of the colon or abdominal wall.
  2. Spastic Constipation – it is also known as constipation-dominant irritable bowel syndrome, triggered by stress or certain foods.
  3. Obstructive Constipation – its causes include cystic fibrosis among children, tumors or adhesions.

Constipation is commonly defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week.

Though irregular constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation that can affect with their ability to go about their daily tasks. Chronic constipation can cause extreme straining to have a bowel movement and other signs and indications.


Causes of Constipation

Constipation occurs when the colon consume too much water, or if the muscles in the colon are contracting moderately or poorly so that the stool moves too slowly and loses extra water.

Six groups that cause constipation are the following:

  • Inappropriate diet
  • Dry foods taken with lacking fluid,  obesity, dehydration, energy and carbonated drinks, skipped meals, alcohol, and starvation are leading dietary grounds of constipation.
  • Inactivity

– Sedentary life style, depression and aging can cause or aggravate constipation.

  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
  • Disregarding the urge to have a bowel movement may outcome in chronic constipation.
  • High levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy
. Serious constipation includes obstipation and fecal impaction that can progress to bowel obstruction and become life-threatening.


Symptoms of Constipation

Constipation can be weighed as chronic, if you’ve experienced two or more of these signs for the last three months.

The person may experience the following symptoms:

  • Few bowel movements
  • Hard or small stools
  • Swollen belly or pain in belly
  • Throwing up
  • straining to have a bowel movement
  • rectal bleedingand/or anal fissures triggered by hard stools
  • physiological distress and/or obsession with having bowel movements


Prevent Constipation

  • Consume a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grain or cereal.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids every day.
  • Avoid drinking coffee.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Go to the bathroom when feeling urge.


Treatments involve changes in dietary habits, laxatives, enemas, biofeedback, and in particular situations surgery may be needed.

Set an appointment with your doctor if you experience mysterious and persistent changes in your bowel habits.

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