Reasons For Constipation | Symptoms
Constipation is a digestive disorder that affects people of all age groups. You may have numerous reasons for constipation at a time. Slight modifications in your diet and lifestyle can help you prevent constipation.
The most common symptoms of constipation include:
- Infrequent bowel movements (less than three stools per week)
- Dry, lumpy & sausage-like, or hard lumpy stools
- Lower abdominal discomfort
- Straining to have a bowel movement
- The feeling of not completely emptying the colon
- Nausea, bloating, or/and gas
What may be the reasons for constipation?
Usually, when the digested liquid food moves through the large intestine, the colon absorbs water from the food and gives it a solid appearance.
Muscular contractions in the colon then make the way of this solid waste material to the rectum. But when contractions are so slow, it causes stools to stay there for a long time. For this reason, the colon absorbs too much water from stools and makes bowel movements irregular.
The most common reasons for constipation are the following.
1. Low Fiber Diets
Adequate fiber (soluble and insoluble) intake is necessary for gut health. Because the diet low in fiber reduces the size and transit time of stools.
Adult men (50 years or younger) should aim for 38 grams of fiber per day. Women (50 years or younger) should aim to have 25 grams of fiber daily.
Fiber intake above the recommended value can cause unwanted symptoms like bloating or gas.
Not drinking enough water makes you prone to constipation. Your body needs adequate hydration to move waste material through the gastrointestinal tract.
But when there is not enough water already, the colon draws water from the stools and makes them dry and hard. This leads to fewer bowel movements.
As a matter of fact, drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily along with fiber-rich foods can help constipation.
3. Lack of Activity
One of the main reasons for constipation is inactivity. Not moving enough slows down the movement of stools through your large intestine.
But a daily brisk walk for at least 30 minutes can help make your bowel movements regular. Exercise increases the heart rate and muscle contractions in the colon leading to quick pass out of stools.
4. Eating Processed Foods
Processed foods include cakes, desserts, white bread, sausages, bacon, cheese, hot dogs, chips, etc.
All these foods are low in fiber and high in fats which slows down digestion and causes constipation.
Moreover, these foods also contain sugar and additives that can decrease the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. Consequently, gut health gets upset and causes constipation.
5. Resisting the Urge to Defecate
When stool fill-up the intestine, it stretches the rectum and hence urges you to empty the bowels. Frequently ignoring the urge to go to the toilet causes constipation.
Because the colon absorbs more water from the stools as they stay there for a long time. Therefore, the accumulation of hardened stool in the rectum makes them difficult to pass.
Certain medicines and dietary supplements cause constipation as a side effect. So, always talk to your doctor about gut health before taking these medicines. Following medicines may worsen constipation.
- Blood pressure-lowering medicines like calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers
- Pain relievers including narcotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Iron and calcium supplements
- Epilepsy preventing medicines
- Allergy preventing medicines like antihistamines
- Antacids containing aluminum or calcium
- Nausea relieving medicines
Decreasing the dose of drugs or changing the medicine can help prevent constipation.
If you are depressed and getting constipated, you are not alone. In stress, you are more likely to be constipated because of lack of activity and change in eating habits.
Also, our brain and gut are connected. So, any change in mental health affects our bowel movements.
Talking to anyone around may help ease stress and improved gut health consequently.
Constipation during pregnancy is a common problem. In early pregnancy, hormonal changes (increase in progesterone) relax intestinal muscles. This slows down digestion and causes constipation.
As the pregnancy progresses, an enlarged uterus puts pressure on the bowels in some women and causes delayed emptying of bowels.
Intake of high-dose iron pills in pregnancy is another cause of constipation.
Walking around, drinking enough water, taking probiotics and fiber-rich foods can help stools pass without difficulty.
9. Medical Conditions
One of the main reasons for constipation is an underlying medical condition. The most common health conditions which cause constipation are the following.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, stroke.
Treating the underlying cause can help to cure constipation.