Constipation is an annoying problem that most us will all face at least once in our lives. It occurs when our bowel movements are hard and we are unable to empty our bowels as regularly as we need too. When this happens, it becomes more difficult to pass stool and the cycle can continue to worsen.

What is Constipation?

Constipation is defined as bowel movements that are hard, difficult to pass and less frequent than normal. Although the frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person, constipation is specifically defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week. Severe constipation is considered as less than one bowel movement per week. Constipation can also be defined as very hard stools that cause significant pain to pass or inability to empty your bowels when you do have a bowel movement.

The Causes of Constipation

Constipation can be caused by a large number of different reasons. One major contributor to constipation is medication. Narcotic pain medications, such as Percocet or morphine are major causes, however antidepressants, iron supplements and calcium channel blockers have also been known to cause this.

Our daily habits and diet are also major factors in causing constipation. When you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, and you suppress it, this can lead to decreased urges and ultimately, constipation. Our diets also contribute hugely do this and if we eat a low fiber diet, we are likely to have fewer, looser, bowel movements.

Although rarer, certain disorders have been associated with constipation. These include irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, or pregnancy.

The Symptoms of Constipation

The main symptom of constipation is infrequent bowel movements, normally less than three per week. Symptoms can also include hard, painful feces and having to strain and push when having a bowel movement. Other symptoms are the feeling of not being able to empty your bowel, abdominal pain and abdominal distension.

The Treatment of Constipation

The main constipation treatment is treating the underlying cause of the constipation. If constipated, there are several different techniques to try to fix the issue. A simple diet change of drinking more water and eating more fiber can help lubricate the colon and harden the stool. This can be done by increasing fruit and vegetable intake as well as eating high fiber cereals. Stool softeners and laxatives are also available to help reduce constipation. If these techniques fail, call your physician and ask for advice.

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