Constipation means that a person has three or fewer bowel movement in a week. The stool can be hard and dry. Sometimes it is painful to pass. At one time or another, almost everyone gets constipated. In most cases, it lasts a short time and is not serious.

Constipation is defined as having a bowel movement fewer than three times per week. With constipation stools are usually hard, dry, small in size, and difficult to eliminate. Some people who are constipated find it painful to have a bowel movement and often experience straining, bloating, and the sensation of a full bowel.

Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; others, only one or two times a week. Going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass.

Constipation is when you have trouble having bowel movements. Your stools may be very hard, making them so difficult to pass that you have to strain. Or you may feel like you still need to have a bowel movement even after you've had one.

Constipation refers to infrequent or hard stools, or difficulty passing stools. Constipation may involve pain during the passage of a bowel movement, inability to pass a bowel movement after straining or pushing for more than 10 minutes, or no bowel movements after more than 3 days. Infants who are still exclusively breastfed may go 7 days without a stool.

Causes of Constipation

Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon’s muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move through the colon too slowly. As a result, stools can become hard and dry. Common causes of constipation are
Constipation is most often caused by a low-fiber diet, lack of physical activity, not drinking enough water, or delay in going to the bathroom when you have the urge to defecate. Stress and travel can also contribute to constipation or other changes in bowel habits.

Laxative abuse - A laxative is a food or chemical substance that acts to loosen the bowels by softening and increasing the bulk of bowel contents, increasing the amount of water in the colon and lubricating the intestinal walls. Over time, laxatives can damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with the colon's natural ability to contract.

Medicines (especially strong pain medicines, such as narcotics, antidepressants or iron pills).

As the food you eat passes through your digestive tract, your body takes nutrients and water from the food. This process creates a stool, which is moved through your intestines with muscle contractions (squeezing motions).

One of the reasons constipation is so common is that it has a wide range of potential causes, from diet to disease. Sometimes the problem derives from not having enough fiber or fluid in the diet. Insoluble fiber, which is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, pulls water into the intestines, helping to soften the stool.

A lack of physical activity also appears to contribute to constipation, though it's not understood how exactly exercise improves bowel habits.

Not enough liquid - Liquids like water and juice add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making movements softer and easier to pass. Recommended daily consumption of liquid is eight, eight-ounce glasses (totaling 64 ounces) per day.

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