Causes and Treatments of Constipation

Causes and Treatments of Constipation

To understand constipation, it helps to know the colon (Large intestine) works. As food moves through the colon, it absorbs water while forming waste products, or stools. Muscle contractions in the colon push the stool towards the rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum, it is solid because most of the water has been absorbed.

The hard and dry stools of constipation occur when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon’s muscles contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move though the colon too slowly. 

Common Causes of Constipation are

Not enough fibre in the diet

Not enough liquids

Lack of exercise


Irritable bowel syndrome

Changes in lifestyle or routines such as pregnancy, old age and travel
Abuse of laxatives

Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement

Specific diseases such as stroke (by far the most common)

Problems with the colon and rectum

Problems with intestinal fiction (chronic idiopathic constipation)

Common Treatment of constipation are 

Although, treatment depends on the cause, severity, and duration, in most cases dietary and lifestyle changes will help to relieve symptoms of constipation and help to prevent it.


A diet with enough fibre helps to form soft, bulky stool. A doctor of dietitian can help to plan an appropriate diet. High fibre foods include beans, whole grains and bran cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and carrots. For people prone to constipation, limiting foods that have little or no fibre, such as ice cream, cheese, meat and processed foods is also important.

Lifestyle changes

Other changes that can help to treat and prevent constipation include drinking enough water and other liquids such as fruit and vegetable juices and clear soups, engaging in daily exercise and reserving enough time to have a bowel movement. In addition, the urge to have a bowel movement should not be ignored.


Most people who are mildly constipated do not need laxatives. However, for those who have made diet and lifestyle changes and are still constipated, doctors may recommend laxatives or enemas for a limited time. These treatments can help to retrain a chronically sluggish bowel. For children, short-term treatment with laxatives along with retraining to establish regular bowel habits also helps to prevent constipation.

Other treatments

Treatment may be directed at a specific cause. For example, the doctor may recommend discontinuing medication or performing surgery to correct an anorectal problem such as rectal prolapse.

People with chronic constipation caused by anorectal dysfunction can use biofeedback to retrain the muscles that control the release of bowel movements. 

Biofeedback involves using a sensor to monitor muscles activity that at the same time can be use displayed on a computer screen, allowing for an accurate assessment of body functions. A healthcare professional uses this information to help the patient learn how to use these muscles.

Surgical removal of the colon may be an option for people with severe symptoms caused by colonic inertia. However, the benefits of this surgery must be weighed against possible complications, which include abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

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