The Cause of Constipation
by Dr. Edward F. Group III
Constipation, in fact, has many
causes. The cause of your constipation may be a poor diet, lack
of exercise and water, or something more serious. This article
will review the main causes on constipation in the hope we can
pinpoint the cause of constipation for you.
If youíre like many Americans, constipation is something youíve
experienced. Over 4 million people each year report being
constipated. To understand why you may be suffering, you first
need to know exactly what constipation means.
Being constipated means that you have difficulty passing stools.
Many people have been taught that constipation is related to the
number of times you have a bowel movement.
In reality, constipation has relatively little to do with how
many times youíve had a bowel movement. Itís normal for someone
to have anywhere from 3 bowel movements per week to 3 bowel
movements a day. If your stools are soft and pass easily and you
pass them at least 3 times per week, youíre not constipated.
In order to be diagnosed with constipation, you must have at
least two of the following symptoms for at least 12 months:
The Cause of Constipation
- Hard or pellet-like stools at least 25% of the time
- Straining with bowel movements at least 25% of the time
- A feeling that you donít completely empty your bowels at least 25% of the time
- Fewer than 3 bowel movements per week
- Fewer than 2 bowel movements per week with no other symptoms
The most common cause of constipation is a lack of adequate
amounts of water and fiber in the diet. The longer the stool
sits in the large intestine waiting to be passed, the harder and
less easy to pass it becomes.
There are many other reasons that you may find yourself
constipated. Common causes of constipation include:
Constipation may also be a result of another health problem,
such as irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes.
- A change in schedule, such as traveling or anything that changes your daily routine
- Waiting to have a bowel movement
- An increase in your stress levels
- A lack of exercise
- Loss of activity as a result of injury or aging
- Medication use
Older people (over the age of 65) experience constipation more
often than other adults. This is often due to an increase in
medications and loss of mobility.
A more uncommon cause of constipation results from an actual
obstruction in the large intestine. This can be caused by an
obstruction such as a tumor or gallstone that is wedged in the
The bowel may also be obstructed if the large intestine has
twisted on itself. Another possible cause of bowel obstruction
is from connective tissue diseases such as lupus or scleroderma.
If youíre experiencing symptoms from constipation for more than
two weeks, itís a good idea to seek the advice of your doctor.
Together you can pinpoint the causes of your constipation and
choose the best treatment options.