Constipation affects almost everyone at one time or another. A common cause of constipation is a diet high in meats, dairy products, eggs, and sugary desserts. A number of common medicines, including over-the-counter remedies and prescription medications, can cause constipation.

These include pain medications (especially narcotics), antacids that contain aluminum or calcium, antispasmodic drugs, antidepressants, iron supplements, anticonvulsants for epilepsy, drugs for Parkinson's and heart conditions. The challenges of constipation can be better managed by understanding the condition.  Most cases temporary and for most people, it's an awkward subject. If the problem is severe or frequent and causes you a great deal of discomfort, however,  most cases dietary and lifestyle modifications alone suffice and there is no real need for medical treatment.

What is Constipation?

Constipation may have many causes, but you know when you have it. Constipation or irregularity occurs when your bowel movements become difficult or when they happen less frequently than normal. It can throw off your daily routine. What's normal? It depends on the individual. Normal can range from a bowel movement three times a day to three times a week.


Normal stools are soft and formed, and passed without straining. Only you can determine what's normal for you. Only you can determine when your bowel movements are difficult to pass or happen less frequently

Constipation refers to the condition where bowel movements are irregular and the process of passing stools can be painful. Most people suffer from constipation at some point of time, but some may complain of more frequent bouts than others. For most people constipation is a discomfort that's best not discussed as it is in constipation can also vary as this depends on what one views as regular bowel movements.

While some individuals need to pass a stool at least twice or thrice a day, for some others regular bowel movements may simply include passing a stool once in two or three days. In most cases,however an individual is said to suffer from constipation if there is straining to pass stools most of the time, if the stools are hard most of the time, if the bowels are not completely evacuated a lot of the time and if bowel movements occur just once or twice a week.

For chronic cases, where the problem of constipation frequently recurs or is long lasting, a more aggressive form of treatment may be necessary. Infants, children and adults can all suffer from constipation.

Symptoms of Constipation

The signs and symptoms include:

  • Abdominal discomfort.
  • Fatigue.
  • Gas.
  • Achiness.
  • Bloating.
  • Irritability.
  • Straining.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Irregular or less frequent bowel movements or anything less than thrice a week (severe constipation refers to only one or less bowel movements per week)
  • Sudden change in regularity.
  • Harder stools that are more difficult to pass.
  • A bloated feeling in the lower abdomen.
  • Straining while passing stools.
  • Coated tongue.
  • Bad breath.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Dark circles under the eyes.
  • Mouth ulcers.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Feeling of fullness in the abdomen.
  • Gas and bloating.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Heartburn.
  • Children who suffer from constipation may be easily fatigued and have no appetite.
  • Infants tend to be uneasy and fussy and suffer from gas and bloating.
Some Causes of Occasional Constipation

The causes of occasional constipation can be as diverse as the people who suffer from it. A digestive system that isn't functioning properly does not necessarily signal unhealthy habits or lifestyle, but some bad habits could contribute to the causes of constipation.

Some common causes of constipation include diet, stress, travel, lack of exercise, or any other changes in your daily routine that can affect your digestive system. Sometimes constipation can be caused simply by a slower digestive system.In today's 24-hour world, some causes of constipation can be difficult to avoid. With a busy schedule, it is easy to resist the urge to go to the bathroom.

Sometimes you miss the opportunity entirely. The unfortunate result: postponing a bowel movement may actually contribute to irregularity. Constipation occurs because of the slow passage of digesting food through the intestines. While this could occur in any part of the intestine in almost all cases this occurs in the colon.

In almost all cases the main cause of constipation is a poor diet or dehydration, but it may also be caused due to certain medications. In some cases, constipation may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The main causes of constipation include
  • A low-fiber diet.
  • Inadequate or poor intake of fluids.
  • Lack of regular exercise and a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Changes to lifestyle and daily routine, including meal timings or the timings for your bowel movements.
  • Delaying having a bowel movement even after the urge occurs (this is usually common among children, especially toddlers who aren't ready to be toilet trained).
  • Discomfort, such as inadequate privacy whilst using the toilet.
  • Abuse of laxatives.
  • Stress.
  • Depression.
  • Aging.
  • Obesity or overweight.
  • Metabolic disorders.
  • Medications such as certain anticonvulsants, antacids, antidepressants and antihistamines.
  • Travel and changes of schedule.
  • Pregnancy..
  • Hormonal imbalance.
  • Medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis or hyperthyroidism.
  • Diseases of the bowel.
  • Abnormalities of the pelvic floor.
  • Colon cancer (though this is rare).
  • Psychological problems such as trauma or shock resulting from violence, sexual abuse or personal loss.
Some medical conditions as well as various medications and some nutritional supplements can also contribute to constipation.
Some Medications & Dietary Supplements
That May Cause Constipation
  • Iron supplements.
  • Calcium supplements.
  • Narcotic analgesics.
  • Antacids.
  • Anticholinergics.
  • Medicines that dehydrate your system.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Anti-Parkinson's drugs.
  • Antispasmodics.
  • Anticonvulsants.
Diet Recommendations & Prevention of Constipation

Constipation is not usually caused by one or more foods on [its] own, “It’s usually a combination of things, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that what you put in your body has a lot to do with the way it comes out.

Eating unhygienic and junk food can damage your colon because this type of food can leave toxins and wastes behind and this is the root of problems in your body. Eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily.

Work to prevent constipation now with the right constipation diet. Follow these diet dos and don’ts:

Do …

Drink plenty of fluids:

Getting the recommended eight glasses of water a day helps to soften your stool, making elimination easier. Drinking the right amount of fluids may also help stool leave the colon.

Eat fresh and dried fruit:

Fruit, especially dried fruit, is loaded with fiber and is one of the foods that help relieve constipation. Along with water, fiber helps give stool the right consistency to pass easily. Good fruit choices for a constipation diet are raisins, prunes, figs, bananas, apples, and applesauce.

Load your plate with vegetables:

Vegetablesare also high in fiber and can help prevent constipation. Pinto beans, legumes, salads, and raw vegetables are all high in fiber, making them great choices for constipation relief and prevention.

Fill up on whole grains for fiber:

Look for whole-grain bread, oatmeal, ground flax seed, barley, and wheat bran cereal. Your goal should be to get up to 35 grams of fiber a day, and just one ounce of wheat bran cereal gives you 10 grams.

Don’t …
Rely on processed foods?

Processed foods don’t have much fiber, Eating too many of them can lead to constipation — better to go with natural foods like fruits and vegetables than to get your meals and snacks from a box or bag.

Drink coffee or caffeinated drinks all day?

Caffeine is a stimulant so it can cause you to have a bowel movement. But it can also cause dehydration, which can have the opposite effect and lead to constipation.

Go overboard on dairy?

Dairy on its own may not lead to constipation, but the lactose in dairy can produce gas and make you uncomfortable if you’re backed up already, foods that are loaded with cheese aren’t usually part of a balanced diet, so be sure to get the three recommended daily servings of dairy from healthy, low-fat sources, such as nonfat milk and yogurt.

Drink too much alcohol?

Like caffeine, alcohol can dehydrate you and cause constipation. Limiting your alcohol intake can help relieve constipation.

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