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What Causes Constipation

If you feel difficulty in passing stools, you are constipated. There are several causes of constipation but the common among them are poor diet, lack of exercise and water.

Lack of adequate amounts of water and fiber in the diet are the most common cause of constipation. The longer the stool remains in the large intestine waiting to be passed, the harder and less easy to pass it becomes. Other reasons behind your constipation may be a change in schedule, such as traveling or anything that changes your daily routine, increased stress level, lack of exercise, pregnancy, loss of activity as a result of injury or aging or certain medication.

Diet low in fiber and high in fats can contribute to constipation. Fiber absorbs water and causes stools to be larger, softer, and easier to pass. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Increasing fiber intake helps cure constipation in many patients, but those with more severe constipation sometimes find that increasing fiber makes their constipation worse.

Constipation may be a side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These include pain medications (especially narcotics), antacids that contain aluminum, antispasmodics, antidepressants, tranquilizers and sedatives, bismuth salts, iron supplements, diuretics, calcium-channel blockers, anticholinergics and anticonvulsants.

Constipation may also be a result of other health problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes. People over the age of 60’s experience constipation more often than other adults. This is often due to an increase in medications and loss of mobility causing constipation in the elderly.

Pregnancy may cause women to become constipated because of hormonal changes or because the heavy uterus pushes on the intestine. People who ignore the urge to move their bowels are more constipated because repeatedly ignoring the urge may eventually stop feeling the urge.

Diseases that can cause constipation include long-term kidney disease; bowel cancer, neurological disorders, spinal cord injury, stroke, or multiple sclerosis; metabolic and endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes and diverticulitis. A number of systemic conditions, like scleroderma, can also cause constipation.

People who use laxatives for a long duration often rely on them for both psychological and physiological reasons. The colon may begin to require laxatives to spur bowel movements. In the past, laxatives were thought to damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with the colon’s innate ability to contract. However, newer formulations of laxatives have made this outcome rare (See herbal colon cleansers)

Obstruction in the large intestine is an uncommon cause of constipation. This can be caused by an obstruction such as a tumor or gallstone that is wedged in the intestine. The bowel may also be obstructed if the large intestine has twisted on itself. Another possible cause of bowel obstruction is from connective tissue diseases such as lupus or scleroderma.

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