Causes and Symptoms of Constipation


Constipation is a condition where fewer than 3 bowel movements occur per week. It occurs when food moves too slowly through the digestive system and the colon absorbs a lot of water from the faeces. The faeces become hard and dry, and are difficult to push through the anus or rectum.
Constipation can be caused by a lack of fibre. Plants such as whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre. Fibre is not digested, and it helps to keep stools soft. People who do not eat enough fibre may also drink insufficient fluids. It can be difficult to pass a bowel movement because a stool must be moist and soft to move through your digestive system. 

Constipation can be caused by a change in lifestyle or lack of exercise. This is particularly true for older people, who are less physically active and have slower metabolisms than younger people. The changes in hormones can also lead to constipation, as they reduce the muscle contractions that occur along the digestive system and slow the movement of faeces. It can be caused by pregnancy and childbirth because the baby in utero squishes intestines.

It is more common in people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma and arthritis. Constipation can also be caused by certain medications, such as antacids and iron supplements. Constipation can also be caused by gynaecological conditions, colon cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
Constipation can be a sign that the stool is hard and dry when you go to the bathroom. Constipation can also be characterised by abdominal pain, bloating and a feeling that your bowels are full.

It is important that you speak to your doctor if you experience these symptoms. You will be asked about your bowel movements, your daily routines and your lifestyle. The doctor will examine you, and they’ll take a stool sample to test for constipation.

If your doctor suspects that you suffer from constipation they may prescribe laxatives or bowel stimulants. Laxatives encourage bowel movement by causing it to become larger and more bulky or by softening the stool. Both over-the counter and prescription versions are available. Over-the-counter medications include lubricants, such as mineral oil, and laxatives that form bulk, like fibre supplements. These medications will work better if you drink more water while taking them.

Prescription laxatives can include osmotics, which draw water into the stool to hydrate it, and neuromusculares that stimulate the muscles of the digestive system to move. The procedure known as a colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy, can be used for diagnosing constipation and diseases of the lower digestive system. These tests are analysed by a doctor. The doctor will then determine if any treatment is required.