Constipation is defined as having a bowel movement fewer than three times per week. With constipation stools are usually hard, dry, small in size, and difficult to eliminate. Some people who are constipated find it painful to have a bowel movement and often experience straining, bloating, and the sensation of a full bowel.
Some people think they are constipated if they do not have a bowel movement every day. However, normal stool elimination may be three times a day or three times a week, depending on the person.
Constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Almost everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life, and a poor diet typically is the cause. Most constipation is temporary and not serious. Understanding its causes, prevention, and treatment will help most people find relief.
Causes & Risks of Constipation
Causes of Constipation
- Inadequate fluid intake renders the stools hard.
- Insufficient fiber in the diet. Fiber adds bulk, holds water and creates easily passed, soft feces.
- Hypothyroidism (insufficient secretion by the thyroid gland).
- Hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the body).
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Back pain.
- Use of certain drugs, including: belladonna, calcium–channel blockers, beta–adrenergic blockers, tricyclic anti–depressants, narcotics, atropine, iron, antacids.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Poor diet.
- Illness requiring complete bed rest.
- Hard feces.
- Infrequent bowel movements.
- Straining during bowel movements.
- Pain or bleeding with bowel movements (i.e., at the time of passing stools).
- Sensation of continuing fullness after a bowel movement.
- Abdominal bloating.
- Eat a well–balanced, high fiber diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.