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   Health > Ailments > What is Constipation
What is Constipation and what are it's main causes?

What is Constipation?

Constipation refers to a decrease in the frequency of bowel movements. For some people, it may mean difficulty in passing stools. A constipated stool is hard because it contains less water than normal.

Constipation is common in children and older age, but can affect anyone. Since everyone has difficult bowel patterns, and not everyone passes one stool per day, exactly who qualifies for the diagnosis of 'constipated' is not always clear. About 2% of the population suffers from chronic constipation.

Some people think they are constipated if they do not have avowal movement every day. However, normal stool elimination maybe three times a day or three times a week, depending on the person.

What are the main causes of constipation?

Poor diet: Eating foods rich in animal fats (dairy products, meats, and eggs) or refined sugar but low in fibre (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) may cause constipation.

Painkillers: Narcotic-containing drugs, for instance, may interfere with bowel functions.

Intestinal obstruction: Mechanical compression and interference with the normal functions of the bowel may occur.

Lack of exercise and certain medications are part of the problem. But one of the most common constipation causes is Food Intolerance. Not to be confused with a food allergy (which is an autoimmune response of the body), food intolerance is a physical inability of some people to process certain foods.

Changes in diet, or a different diet affect bowel habits. In adults, high-fibre diets have been shown to improve bowel function. In children, however, high-fibre diets have not been proven to improve constipation. Infants and children who eat well-balanced meals typically are not constipated.

If too much water is absorbed or if the waste moves too slowly, you may become constipated. You may also experience constipation if the muscles you use to move your bowels aren't coordinated. This problem is called pelvic floor dysfunction (anismus) and it causes you to strain with most bowel movements, even soft ones. Stool moves through your colon but gets hung up in the rectum because of a lack of muscle coordination to empty your bowels. Eating large amounts of dairy products.


Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, which is sometimes the result of pain from haemorrhoids.

Overuse of laxatives (stool softeners) which, over time, weaken the bowel muscles.

Hypothyroidism, neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.

Antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminium.

Medicines (especially strong pain medicines, such as narcotics, antidepressants or iron pills).


Not eating enough fibre, such as fruit, vegetables and cereals, a change in your routine, or lifestyle, such as a change in your eating habits, having limited privacy when using the toilet, ignoring the urge to pass stools, immobility, lack of exercise, not drinking enough fluids, being under, or overweight.

Eating disorders.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Colon cancer

Bowel movements are under voluntary control. This means that the normal urge people feel when they need to have a bowel movement can be suppressed. Although occasionally it is appropriate to suppress an urge to defecate (e.g., when a bathroom is not available), doing this too frequently can lead to a disappearance of urges and result in constipation.

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