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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're risk factors for constipation?

Not enough fiber in diet. The most common cause of constipation is a diet low in fiber found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and high in fats found in cheese, eggs, and meats. People who eat plenty of high-fiber foods become constipated less often. Fiber -- soluble and insoluble -- is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes almost

unchanged through the intestines. The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. On average, Americans eat about 5 to 10 grams of fiber daily, short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association. Both children and adults eat too many refined and processed foods in which the natural fiber is removed. A low-fiber diet also plays a key role in constipation among older adults. They often lack interest in eating and may choose fast foods low in fiber. In addition, loss of teeth may force older people to eat soft, processed foods that are low in fiber.

Not enough liquids. Liquids like water and juice add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who have problems with constipation should drink enough of these liquids every day, about eight 8-ounce glasses. Liquids that contain caffeine, like coffee and soft drinks, seem to have a dehydrating effect.

Lack of exercise. Lack of exercise can lead to constipation, although physicians do not know precisely why. For example, constipation often occurs after an accident or during an illness when one must stay in bed and cannot exercise.

Medications. Pain medications (especially narcotics), antacids that contain aluminum, antispasmodics, antidepressants, iron supplements, diuretics, and anticonvulsants for epilepsy can slow the passage of bowel movements.

Irritable bowel syndrome. Many people with IBS, also known as spastic colon, have irregular bowel movements. Constipation and diarrhea often alternate, and abdominal cramping, gassiness, and bloating are other common complaints. Although IBS can produce lifelong symptoms, it is not a life-threatening condition. It often worsens with stress, but causes nothing unusual that a physician can see in the colon. Changes in life or routine, such as pregnancy, older age, and travel. During pregnancy, women may be constipated because of hormonal changes or because the heavy uterus compresses the intestine. Aging may also affect bowel regularity because a slower metabolism results in less intestinal activity and muscle tone. In addition, people often become constipated when traveling disrupts their normal diet and daily routines.

Abuse of laxatives. Myths about constipation have led to a serious abuse of stimulant laxatives, especially among older adults who are preoccupied with having a daily bowel movement. Stimulant laxatives should be avoided. Over time, stimulant laxatives can damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with the colon's natural ability to contract. Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement. People who ignore the urge to have a bowel movement may eventually stop feeling the urge, which can lead to constipation. Some people delay having a bowel movement because they do not want to use toilets outside the home. Others ignore the urge because of emotional stress or because they are too busy. Children may postpone having a bowel movement because of stressful toilet training or because they do not want to interrupt their play.

Specific diseases. Ten percent of patients that have the symptom of constipation have an underlying disease or disorder. Diseases that cause constipation include neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders, and systemic conditions that affect organ systems. These disorders can slow the movement of stool through the colon, rectum, or anus. Neurological disorders that may cause constipation include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, stroke, and spinal cord injuries. Metabolic and endocrine conditions include diabetes, underactive or overactive thyroid gland, and uremia. Systemic disorders include amyloidosis, lupus, and scleroderma.

Problems with the colon and rectum. Intestinal obstruction, scar tissue (adhesions), diverticulosis, tumors, colorectal stricture, Hirschsprung's disease, or cancer can compress, squeeze, or narrow the intestine and rectum and cause constipation. Colonic inertia is caused by decreased muscle activity in the colon. These syndromes may affect the entire colon or may be confined to the left or lower (sigmoid) colon. Pelvic floor disorders including rectocoeles, pelvic descent, and nonrelaxing puborectalis syndrome may all cause constipation.

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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