What is constipation?
The term constipation means different things to different people.
Usually it means passing stools very infrequently or passing hard stools. In other cases it can be used to describe difficulty with emptying the bowel (see obstructed defaecation syndrome).
Peoples bowel habits do vary, but most people will open their bowels in the range of 1-3 times per day or once every 3 days. Some people may go less frequently without any problems.
What causes constipation?
There are many potential causes of constipation and frequently these causes may be interlinked. The most common causes are listed below:
• A diet lacking in fibre
• Insufficient fluid intake
• Poor general health
• Lack of regular exercise and inactivity
• Intake of some medicines- painkillers , calcium or iron supplements
• Increasing age
• Stress, depression or an anxiety about using the toilet
More serious causes of constipation include bowel cancer or narrowing of the bowel caused by diverticular or Crohn’s disease.
Constipation can follow spinal cord injuries or be associated with other diseases of the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Transient episodes of constipation are common, you should consult your doctor if your symptoms persist for 3 weeks or more. You should seek advice immediately if you notice any bleeding.
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