What is Constipation: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What is constipation?

Constipation is usually defined as the persistent, difficult, infrequent, or seemingly incomplete defecation. It is described as having less than three episodes of bowel movements in a week.


Prolonged constipation may cause excessive straining which may interfere in daily tasks.  Almost everyone has experienced constipation and older ones more likely experience this condition. Most cases of constipation is not life threatening and easily treated.

What are the symptoms of constipation?

  • having less than 3 episodes of bowel movements in a week
  • passage of hard dry stools
  • bloating
  • Straining or pain during defecation
  • Feeling of blockage in the rectum
  • The feeling of incomplete defection
  • Feeling of fullness even after having a bowel movement
  • Feeling the need to empty your rectum, using your hands to press the abdomen or using a finger to remove stool

What causes constipation?

Several causes of constipation include medications, underlying medical conditions, lifestyle, and pregnancy.

Here are some causes of constipation related to lifestyle:

  •  low fiber diet
  •  diet high in meat, milk and cheese
  • Inadequte fluid intake (dehydration)
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Stress
  •  Changes in regular routine such as traveling, eating habits and sleeping at different times

Medications such as pain relievers, iron supplements, anti-depressants, antacids, and certain anti-hypertension drugs can cause constipation. In addition, blockage in the rectum may slow down or stop stool movement, while neurological problems may affect nerves that cause the muscles in your colon and rectum to contract.

Furthermore, hormones help balance fluids in the body, thus medical conditions which upset the balance of hormones may lead to constipation, such as Diabetes, Overactive parathyroid glands, pregnancy, and an underactive thyroid. You may ask your doctor if your medications may have been causing your constipation

Relief and Treatment for Constipation

Mild cases of constipation can be easily managed at home. Some home remedies include:

  • Drinking plenty of water. Water is essential for digestion as it keeps the food moving and helps your intestines to be smooth and flexible.
  • Limit or avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks (like coffee and soft drinks) which may cause dehydration
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods. Fiber absorbs water and makes stools larger, softer, and easier to pass.
  • Try to lessen the consumption of meat, milk, cheese, and processed foods
  • Eat prunes. Sorbitol found in prunes has a natural laxative effect on the body.
  • Keep moving, and exercise regularly. The colon responds to activity and good muscle tone promotes regular bowel movement
  • When you feel the urge, do not ignore it. Move your bowels. Repeatedly ignoring bowel urges may eventually stop feeling the urge
  • You may try to use a footstool to raise your knees while having a bowel movement
  • Try to relax your muscles and give yourself a long time while having a bowel movement
  • Use laxatives with caution. Seek a consult regarding the use of laxatives.

If no relief is noted with home remedies, doctors may prescribe medications that will work best for you such as:

  • Fiber supplements
  • Stool softeners
  • Lubricants
  • stimulants

Surgery is rarely done to treat constipation unless it is caused by a structural problem in the colon.

Can constipation lead to other health problems?


Some complications of chronic constipation include:

  • Formation of hemorrhoids or swelling/inflammation of veins in the rectum
  • Anal Fissures or tears in your anal lining due to hardened stools
  • Fecal impaction or piling of stools in the rectum and anus
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal prolapse or the detachment of the large intestine inside the body and pushed out of the anal opening

When to consult a doctor?

  • You notice blood on your stool (fresh blood or blood clots)
  • You have lost weight unintentionally
  • You experience severe pain upon defection
  • Constipation has already affected your daily activities
  • Notice changes in stool calibers such as the passage of small stools or ribbon-like stools
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Bleeding from rectum

How EVA Teleconsult can help you address constipation?

Constipation is a common health problem, but chronic constipation may affect productivity and daily activities. If you’re suffering from chronic constipation and have noticed other changes in bowel movement, it is very important to seek medical advice. EVA Teleconsult is always ready to help with almost any illness, including gastrointestinal concerns like constipation. That’s because all of our patients always receive the following:

Timely appointments – No more time wasted while waiting outside a doctor’s office. With us, appointments begin right when they’re supposed to, even if they’re made on the same day.

Guaranteed 30-minute consultation

times – No rushing or quickly dashing off prescriptions with no explanations. Our doctors take the time needed to give you information about your concerns and are open to answering all your questions.

5-star ratings for our doctors – Because our doctors know to explain things in a way patients can understand, we frequently get positive feedback from them.


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