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All about constipation causes of constipation symptoms of constipation risk factors for constipation complications of constipation diagnosis of constipation treatments to cure constipation constipation remedies prevention of constipation infant constipation causes of baby constipation treatments for child constipation constipation during pregnancy Articles in signs and symptoms of digestive diseases - diarrhea vomiting nausea gas in the digestive tract heartburn constipation

What causes constipation?

There may be several, possibly simultaneous, causes for constipation, including inadequate fiber and fluid intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and environmental changes. Constipation may be aggravated by travel, pregnancy or change in diet. In

some people, it may result from repeatedly ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.

More serious causes of constipation include growths or areas of narrowing in the colon, so it is wise to seek the advice of a colon and rectal surgeon when constipation persists. Constipation may rarely be a symptom of scieroderma, lupus, or disorders of the nervous or endocrine systems, including thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and spinal cord injuries.

Constipation tends to occur when the transit (passage) of stool along the large intestine slows. Under normal circumstances, water is pulled from the stool as it passes through the large intestine. Slowed transit of stool allows the large intestine to pull more water from the stool, resulting in the hard, dry stools and associated difficult passage of stools that characterize constipation.

Diet is probably the leading cause of constipation. Much of the indigestible roughage has been removed through refining by Western food manufacturers, leading to a great decrease in the amount of residue available to form stool. The problem is often compounded by anxiety over not having bowel movements as often as one is "supposed to" and by ignoring the urge when it comes. The longer stool stays in your bowel, the harder it gets.

Many people take unnecessary laxatives or enemas, and in so doing empty out two or three days worth of bowel contents. When no bowel movement occurs for the next day or two, they take another laxative or enema, and the process repeats itself until the bowel just gets tired and unresponsive. So, be careful not to abuse these medicines.

Many drugs have a side-effect of constipation. The list is a long one, but common offenders include narcotic derivatives such as Codeine, Darvon, Demerol, Dilaudid, Morphine, Talwin, Percocet, Percodan, and Vicodin; antidiarrheals like Imodium, Lomotil, Paregoric and PeptoBismol; antispasmodics such as Bentyl, Donnatal, Levsin, Levbid, Levsinex, and Librax; antihypertensives, especially calcium channel blockers like Adalat, Calan, Cardizem, Dilacor, Norvasc, and Procardia; antiparkinson drugs like Cogentin and Sinemet; antihistamines; diuretics (water pills); antacids containing aluminum or calcium; and iron pills like ferrous sulfate, Feosol, and Ferrosequels. Of course, there are many others.

Constipation is sometimes caused by obstruction of the large intestine. Particularly in elderly and debilitated people, a large, hard mass of stool at the outlet, called a fecal impaction, blocks the way and must be removed. Small children may have a defect in their large bowel (called Hirschsprung's disease) that prevents it from moving its contents along. This can be a serious condition requiring surgery. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity) also can contribute to constipation. Narcotic-containing medications will frequently cause constipation.

Hormones can affect bowel movements. For example, too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) and too much parathyroid hormone (by raising the calcium levels in the blood) can cause constipation. At the time of a woman's menstrual periods, estrogen and progesterone levels are high and may cause constipation. However, this is rarely a prolonged problem. High levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy also can cause constipation.

More serious causes of constipation include growths or areas of narrowing in the colon, so it is wise to seek the advice of a colon and rectal surgeon when constipation persists. Constipation may rarely be a symptom of scieroderma, lupus, or disorders of the nervous or endocrine systems, including thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke, and spinal cord injuries.

More information on constipation

What is constipation? - Constipation is a condition in which too much water is absorbed from the large intestine back into the bloodstream, leaving the faeces dry, hard and difficult to expel.
What causes constipation? - Constipation is caused by a lack of fibre in the diet. In some people, constipation may result from repeatedly ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.
What are the symptoms of constipation? - Symptoms associated with constipation include infrequent bowel movements, hard stools, straining when passing a motion, cramps, abdominal bloating, flatulence.
What're risk factors for constipation? - Risk factors for constipation include not enough liquids, lack of exercise, medications, irritable bowel syndrome, abuse of laxatives, and specific diseases.
What are the complications of constipation? - Most cases of constipation are due to inadequate dietary fiber intake, inadequate water intake, and reduced physical activity and are not serious.
How is constipation diagnosed? - The patient's observations and medical history help diagnose constipation. Other diagnostic procedures include a barium enema, which reveals blockage inside the intestine.
What's the treatment for constipation? - The first treatment for constipation is to eat a high fiber diet to provide natural bulk in daily food intake. Laxatives may be used to relieve constipation.
What're the alternative remedies for constipation? - Herbal therapies can be useful in the treatment of constipation. Homeopathy also can offer assistance with constipation.
How to prevent constipation? - Dietary modifications can correct constipation. Daily use of 500 mg vitamin C and 400 mg magnesium can prevent constipation.
What is infant constipation? - Constipation is a very common and frustrating problem in children. Constipation is most commonly caused by a diet that is low in fiber.
What causes baby constipation? - Constipation in children usually is due to poor bowel habits. Bottlefed babies suffer from constipation because formula milk is harder for a baby to digest.
What're the treatments for child constipation? - Constipation is best treated by making changes in your child's diet. The goal of treatment is for your child to have one to two soft stools each day.
Constipation during pregnancy - Pregnant women may experience constipation, which can be very uncomfortable. Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy. 
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