When the waste material or the stool moves very slowly via the large intestine, constipation occurs. The feces become hard and dry when they remain in the bowel for a prolonged period resulting in infrequent, painful, and difficult bowel movements. More often, the problem of constipation does not cause any harm.

Although it is not a particular disease, it can be one of the symptoms of a disease. It is a common thought that you are constipated when you do not have the bowel movement every day. But this is not true.

As long as you feel fine even going twice a week or more there is no need to consider yourself constipated. On the other hand, a breastfeeding infant can have bowel movement three to five times a day.

What Causes Constipation?

The food when leaves the stomach is just partly digested. While it moves to the colon and large intestine, the body absorbs valuable fluid through this partly digested food. As a result, this food is then converted into normal feces. The more it remains in the colon, the harder and drier it becomes.

Contrarily, if you take time to go to the toilet the quantity of the feces in your colon increases. When you go out to throw the feces, hard and large stool causes pain and it becomes difficult to pass.

If this is continued for some time, it can lead to chronic constipation. If left untreated, the condition of chronic constipation can last for a few months or even years.

One of the major reasons for constipation is poor and low fiber diet and insufficient water intake. Other causes include:

  • Chronic kidney failure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Bowel obstructions such as benign growth or tumor
  • IBD or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Colon or rectal cancer
  • Neurological disorders including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease

Treatment for Constipation

Constipation is treated medically by suggesting some lifestyle changes. Some such preventive recommendations include:

  • Physical exercise for stimulating the waste movement through the colon
  • Avoiding medications causing constipation
  • Keeping the intake of water 8 to 10 glass per day
  • Eat food rich in fiber and avoid processed food products
  • Use stewed prunes, prune juice, figs to soften the dry and hard stools
  • Eating wholegrain, vegetables, fruits, flaxseed to make passage of stools easier

Use of laxatives, stool softeners and enema can be recommended, however, medication is known to create dependence and hence should be avoided.

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