Things That Can Cause Constipation

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Constipation is certainly an uncomfortable state of affairs. Often what is needed to ease the symptoms is to try to figure out what is causing the constipation in the first place. This article will offer you an overview of the many diseases or lifestyle issues that can result in the symptom of constipation. Most of the time, constipation is not due to a serious disease, but rather can be attributed to lifestyle factors.

Please note, if you are experiencing constipation on a regular basis, you need to make an appointment with your physician to accurately pinpoint what is going on, as well as to establish a treatment plan.

What's Going Wrong

Constipation results when stool is not eliminated from the large intestine in a timely manner, typically less than three times per week. A delay in the frequency of bowel movements can result in such symptoms as:

Constipation Causes

As you can see by the following categories, the symptom of constipation can come from a wide variety of sources.

Lifestyle Causes: How Diet and Exercise Cause Constipation

Because the following constipation causes are reflective of personal choice, they offer you some guidelines for improving your bowel habits:

  • Excess dairy intake
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Inadequate water intake
  • Holding back bowel movements
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Travel

Diseases and Other Health Conditions

The following conditions may present with constipation as one of its symptoms:

Medication Side Effects

The following classes of medications all carry the risk of constipation as a side effect:

  • Antacids
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Iron supplements
  • Narcotics

Cancer

In addition to the following types of cancer, any cancer that affects the functioning of the colon can cause constipation:

Neurological Causes

The following conditions affect the functioning of the colon muscles, which can result in constipation:

Structural Causes

The following conditions involve a structural problem within the digestive system that can contribute to the symptom of constipation.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Dyssynergic defecation is a form of pelvic floor dysfunction, in which the muscles of the pelvic floor do not work as they should. A primary symptom of dyssynergic defecation is constipation.

Constipation Treatment

As stated above, before treating your constipation, you need to consult with your doctor to find out what is behind your symptom. Your doctor will then work with you on developing a management plan that is right for you. 

Sources:

"Constipation" Cleveland Clinic Website Accessed June 20, 2016..

Lee, Y. "What’s New in the Toolbox for Constipation and Fecal Incontinence?" Frontiers in Medicine 2014 1:5.

Minocha, A. & Adamec, C. (2011) The Encyclopedia of the Digestive System and Digestive Disorders (2nd Ed.) New York:Facts on File.

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