Causes of Chronic Constipation

Posted by Eric Lancaster on

Chronic constipation afflicts nearly 63 million people in the United States, according to Besides the discomfort associated with it, if ignored, constipation can lead to distressing conditions and a variety of problems. It can also be a symptom of an underlying disorder which could be serious in nature. Chronic constipation is more common in women than men and in older age groups. However, children and adults of any age or gender can be affected by it.

Understanding Chronic Constipation
Incomplete bowel evacuation, straining, passing hard stools, and less than three bowel movements a week characterize constipation. The stool is not released from the colon in a timely fashion and this slowness causes the colon to absorb excessive water from it, leaving it dry and hard to pass.

Primary Constipation
There are several major and minor causes of constipation. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects more than 10% of Americans and is not clearly understood. It presents itself typically as bowel disturbances and abdominal pain which can become disruptive to daily life. Functional or primary constipation is not caused by secondary factors involving underlying medical conditions, medications, or diseases. These are known as normal transit, slow transit, or evacuation disorders. They can be caused by a number of factors, some of which are:
  1. Low-fiber diet
  2. Low-calorie diet
  3. Nervous reactions or psychological causes
  4. Anismus - Failure of the pelvic floor muscles to relax while attempting to pass stools
  5. Reluctance to defecate 
  6. Lack of physical activity, especially following injuries
The psychosomatic causes lead to changes in the water absorption within the colon and digestive disturbances. Socioeconomic factors have also been known to contribute to this type of constipation presenting frequently in sections of population from lower economic and educational backgrounds.

Secondary Constipation
Secondary constipation refers to constipation related to medical conditions or effects of medications.
  1. Structural alterations of the colon caused by cancer, narrowing or stricture of the colon
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Thyroid Disease 
  4. Parkinson's Disease
  5. Diabetes
  6. Blood pressure medications
  7. Antidepressants such as amitriptyline and imipramine
  8. Anti-seizure medications
  9. Narcotic pain medications containing codeine and hydromorphone, for example
Unless constipation is related to serious diseases, there are a number of ways to regulate bowel movements. Dietary changes alone, including eliminating processed foods and increasing water intake, can vastly improve the success in dealing with common constipation. Being physically active also helps to regulate the GI (gastrointestinal) system, along with a high-fiber diet. There are also several mild or natural supplements, such as PRO EM-1, that can boost and cleanse the digestive system if simple changes in diet are not effective. It is important to remember that treating constipation is necessary to prevent complications - hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and rectal prolapse - from arising. A healthy digestive system is an inherent part of overall health and well-being.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →