What Causes Constipation?

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What is Constipation?

Constipation involves bowel movements that are difficult or occur less frequently than normal. The rate of bowel movements differ between people, and so is the rate at which constipation can be diagnosed for everyone. However, going more than two to three days without a bowel movement is not healthy. With a time period this long, the feces are likely to harden and be painful to pass.

You can determine whether or not you are suffering from constipation by looking at the last three months. If two of more of the following statements can describe you within this time period, then you may be constipated.

  • No more than two bowel movements each week.
  • Stools that are hard half of the time.
  • Needing to strain to pass feces half of the time.

Many may wonder what causes constipation. The fact is there are many different reasons, and it is important that you determine the cause in order to properly treat the condition.

Dietary Issues

Many of the reasons for constipation are related to the way you live your life. The most common cause for the disorder is inadequate water supply. Being dehydrated can cause constipation. In fact, having hard stools and few bowel movements is one of the not-so-subtle hints that you are dehydrated.

Not getting enough fiber is another reason for constipation. Fiber helps to break down food in the body at a normal rate. This ensures that you have a bowel movement almost every day. If there is not enough fiber in your digestive system, you may only have a bowel movement every three or more days.

Eating a large number of dairy products can sometimes be the reason for constipation. This is especially true if your body is not used to eating very much dairy. Actually, any significant alteration to your diet can cause you to be constipated.

Medical Conditions

When asking what causes constipation, some answers that people receive have to do with other medical conditions. For example, constipation is a common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome. This disorder involves the alternating between constipation and diarrhea when having bowel movements.

Pregnancy is another common reason for constipation in women. There are a few different causes for the condition while pregnant. For one, the changes in hormones can slow the digestive process. Also, the growing fetus can apply pressure to the rectum toward the end of the pregnancy, thereby compacting the feces to make them harder than usual.

Colon cancer can also cause constipation. This is because the disease tends to alter the habits of your bowel movements, which can cause constipation or diarrhea.

Physical Causes

There are also some physical changes that can cause you to be constipated. Using too many laxatives can make the body immune to the medication. It can also have the reverse effect after a while. This means the body could continue to become constipated with laxative abuse.

Lack of exercise can also be a reason for constipation. There is not a clear connection between lack of movement and constipation, though doctors have noticed that many patients suffer from the condition following an accident or illness that leaves them bedridden for a significant amount of time.