5 Common Causes of Constipation

May 7th 2016

The initial treatment for constipation should begin with increasing water and fiber intake. If this doesn't make a difference, have a look at the regular medications you take to see if any of them could be a causative factor for your constipation. If constipation continues, see a doctor to rule out any more serious causes.

Inadequate Water

Sufficient water is required to keep the bowels functioning properly. If you allow yourself to become even mildly dehydrated, the body diverts the available supply of fluids to keep the circulatory system working and doesn't provide enough to the digestive system, particularly the bowels, to keep elimination healthy and regular.

Medications

Several over-the-counter and prescription medications list constipation as a possible side effect. Many of the receptors for prescription narcotics are located in the bowel, and they tend to slow down the entire digestive process, including elimination. People who take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on a regular basis may also experience constipation. If you take antacids that contain aluminum or calcium, you may find yourself susceptible to constipation. Antidepressants, some blood pressure medications and iron pills can also cause constipation. Paradoxically, overuse of laxatives also contributes to constipation because the laxatives cause the bowel muscles to become weak over time, possibly resulting in dependence.

Blockages in the Colon

If you're experiencing a blockage in the colon, you are likely to experience constipation as a result. These blockages can be caused by anal fissures, colon cancer, narrowing of the colon or rectal cancer.

Dietary Factors

The body needs fiber to produce stools. If you aren't getting enough fiber in your diet, your body can't create adequate stools, and you end up with small, hard stools that are a factor in constipation. Some people find that eating too much dairy also provokes constipation. For some people, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome, eating bananas, black tea or chocolate can bring on a bout of constipation.

Hormonal Conditions

Some hormonal conditions can result in constipation. With hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces an insufficient supply of thyroid hormones, the entire metabolism slows down, including a slowdown of bowel function. Other conditions that disrupt the body's endocrine system and may result in constipation include diabetes and hyperparathyroidism, or an overactive parathyroid gland.

Conclusion

Constipation occurs when bowel movements slow down or stop altogether for a period of several days. This can range from uncomfortable to downright painful, and it can become a chronic condition. During constipation, stools tend to become hard and dry, making them even harder to pass and exacerbating the condition further. Constipation has many causes, most of them having to do with the function of the bowel rather than with its inherent structure.

Sources

Health.com "13 surprising causes of constipation" http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20452199,00.html
WebMD.com "The basics of constipation" http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-constipation
MayoClinic.org "Constipation causes" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/basics/causes/con-20032773

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