Constipation occurs when a person has difficulty emptying the large bowel. Home remedies and lifestyle changes can often help resolve it, but sometimes, it may need medical attention.
Constipation can happen for many reasons, such as when stool passes through the colon too slowly. The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more water the colon will absorb and the harder the feces will become.
A person who poops fewer than 3 times per week may have constipation.
Sometimes, constipation results from a blockage in the large intestine. In this case, a person will need urgent medical attention. At other times, it may simply be due to a lack of fiber or water.
This article will cover the main causes of constipation and how to treat or prevent it.
Is “pebble poop” a problem? Find out here.
The main symptoms of constipation are:
- difficulty passing stool
- straining when passing stool
- passing less stool than usual
- lumpy, dry, or hard stool
Other symptoms include:
- pain and cramping in the abdomen
- feeling bloated
- a loss of appetite
What does it mean if a person has abdominal pain as well as constipation? Find out here.
Constipation on its own can be uncomfortable, but it typically is not life threatening.
However, it can become a problem if it is a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as colorectal cancer, or if it starts to cause further damage.
Damage that can arise as a result of severe constipation includes:
- rectal bleeding after straining
- anal fissure, which is a small tear around the anus
- symptomatic hemorrhoids (piles), which are swollen, inflamed blood vessels in the anus
- fecal impaction, which occurs when dried stool stagnates and collects in the rectum and anus, potentially leading to a mechanical obstruction
Seeking medical advice for constipation may help prevent complications.
The following are some common causes of constipation:
Lack of fiber in the diet
People with a high intake of dietary fiber are less likely to experience constipation.
This is because fiber promotes regular bowel movements, especially when a person combines it with proper hydration.