Constipation is characterized by difficulty in passage of stools or a decrease in frequency of the bowel moments. The normal range of bowel movements varies individually. In some people, three to four stools per day are regarded as normal while in others even two to three stools per week is perfectly normal.
It is always important to highlight this problem as most of the people having constipation regardless of the frustration and anxiety they are having, are hesitant and find it troublesome to talk about this openly as they are worried to be made fun of.
With a prevalence of 2% in the United States, Constipation is found to affect people from every walk of life age and sex at some point in their life.
The common causes of constipation can be divided into the following categories.
The causes of constipation related to diet and lifestyle are summarized below.
Fibers are found to absorb water and this is how they keep the stools wet. In addition, they also make the stool bulky. Together these two factors prevent constipation. Thus if you are taking a low fiber or a refined diet you are at increased risk of getting constipation.
Like we already said, water keeps the stool soft, thus making it easier for the stools to pass through the bowel. Thus you are more likely to get constipation if you don’t take enough water.
Constipation is found to more commonly affect the people who are having a sedentary lifestyle. The possible explanation to this is that prolonged inactivity weakens the smooth muscles of the intestines as well as abdominal muscles. These weaker muscles are no longer able to push the waste out of the body adequately again leading to constipation.
Certain Hormonal diseases such as under secretion of thyroid hormone or overproduction of parathyroid hormone can also cause constipation.
The production of female hormones is increased several fold in pregnant ladies as compared to nonpregnant women. These pregnancy hormones, with progesterone in particular causes relaxation of smooth muscles in the in the intestines, that slows down the passage of stools out of the body and causes constipation.
It is worth mentioning here that conditions such as rectal or colonic cancer can also present in the form of constipation in elderly people. Thus, you must seek medical advice if you are an elderly person, who has recently developed persistent constipation or rectal bleeding.
Our intestine contains smooth muscles in its wall that when stimulated by a nerve contracts, causing expulsion of the waste product out of the body. Thus, diseases characterized by the damage to the nerves such as Multiple Sclerosis, injuries to the spinal cord and stroke can all cause constipation.
Following complications are noticed in the settings of a long term persistent complication.
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