What is constipation?
Original article courtesy of John Hopkins Medicine
Constipation is a condition in which a person has uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. Generally, a person is considered to be constipated when bowel movements result in passage of small amounts of hard, dry stool, usually fewer than three times a week. However, normal stool elimination may consist of having a bowel movement three times a day or three times a week; it depends on the person.
About 4 million people in the United States have frequent constipation. Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint, resulting in 2.5 million doctor visits annually.
>>What causes constipation?
Hard, dry stools are the result of the colon absorbing too much water. Normally, as food moves through the colon (also known as the large intestine) the colon absorbs water while forming stool (waste products). Muscle contractions then push the stool toward the rectum, and, by the time the stool reaches the rectum, most of the water has been absorbed, making the stool solid.
When the colon's muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, the stool moves through the colon too slowly, resulting in too much water being absorbed. Some of the most common causes of constipation include the following:
Lack of exercise
Not enough liquids
Not enough fiber in the diet
Irritable bowel syndrome
Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
Changes in habits or lifestyle, such as travel, pregnancy, and old age
Problems with intestinal function
Abuse of laxatives
>>What are the symptoms of constipation?