Constipation: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

We have heard the word “Constipation” many times in our daily life. Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems. Constipation is a condition of the digestive system where an individual has hard feces that are difficult to pass. Constipation is commonly experienced by adults. In most cases, individual suffering from constipation can get relief with the proper diet and enough fluids.

Generally constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water from the food.  Colon absorbs more water from the food when the food moves slowly through the digestive tract thus feces become dry and hard. Constipation can be relieved by lifestyle changes.

Causes of Constipation:

Common causes of constipation are:

  • Lack of fiber in diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Medications
  • Aging
  • Stressful lifestyle
  • Regularly eating junk or unhealthy food
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bowel cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Not going to toilet in case of need
  • Travelling
  • Neurological disorders
  • Endocrine and metabolic conditions

Symptoms of Constipation:

Common symptoms of constipation are:

  • Difficulty and straining when passing stools
  • Passing fewer stools than usual
  • Hard stools during defecation
  • Stomach ache
  • Stomach cramps
  • Feeling bloated and nauseous
  • Losing appetite

Diagnosis of Constipation

Mild form of constipation is not harmful but when it becomes chronic then doctor’s consultation is necessary. Major diagnosis methods are:

  • Blood test
  • Sigmoidoscopy 
  • Colonoscopy 
  • In severe cases, Anorectal manometry can be done.
  • X-ray defecography or MRI defecography
  • Examination of anal sphincter muscles to check proper functionality.

Treatment of Constipation:

  • Constipation is not a serious or life threatening condition but it is highly uncomfortable condition. Lifestyle changes can significantly help to get rid of constipation.
  • The treatment of recurring constipation can include lifestyle changes such as doing more exercise, eating more fiber containing food, avoiding junk food and drinking more water.
  • If individual is suffering from constipation since longer time period then doctor can prescribe laxatives. The options available in laxatives are bulk-forming laxatives or fiber supplements, osmotic laxatives, stimulant laxatives, suppositories and other medicines.

Complications of Constipation:

Mild Constipation is an uncomfortable but not a life-threatening condition. But chronic constipation can develop into a more serious condition if not treated no time. Major complications include:

  • Rectal bleeding after continually straining to pass stools.
  • Anal Fissure
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Faecal impaction

Prevention of Constipation

  • Prevention is always better than cure. Constipation is easily preventable by adapting lifestyle changes. Important lifestyle tips to prevent constipation are:

    • Regularly eating fiber containing and balanced diet.
    • Avoid getting dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water along with other Fluids which are essential for the body.
    • Taking a laxative for constipation problem as per doctor’s prescription.
    • Exercising regularly and staying active for better bowel movement.

    People should not ignore the problem of chronic constipation because there can be an underlying illness or condition. In such case, it is important to understand exact cause of constipation. Some people do not give enough time for their defecation, so in this case there is a risk of occurring constipation. People should consult doctor for chronic constipation problem.