The condition of constipation is essentially when your bowel motions are very hard and/or prove difficult to pass, although the definition can have slightly different meanings depending on the sufferer. Being constipated generally refers to experiencing difficulty with evacuation, but for some people it is also associated with the time taken, abdominal pain, bloating possibly with discomfort, discomfort during stool passage, a sensation of incomplete evacuation, and even stool consistency and shape.
A slow transit through the bowel is often related to inadequate dietary fibre and fluid, possibly a lack of exercise and repeatedly ignoring the need to have a bowel movement (this latter point is especially true in young children). The person is likely to visit the toilet infrequently, maybe only every two or three days. Problems with passing the stools are generally related to hard stools and/or a poor evacuation technique (failure to relax the anus and pelvic floor because of posture, pain or muscle weakness). The two are often related and occur at the same time, one often exacerbating the other. There are also other factors which will contribute, such as other diseases or medications, lack of toilet access and carer availability for people with disabilities.
Some symptoms can be indicative of serious illness and should not be ignored, they may possibly indicate bowel cancer, which is the second most common cancer in the UK. You should seek professional advice if you experience any of the following symptoms, especially if you have a history of bowel cancer in your family:
Rectal bleeding, especially in the patient over 50. Even if you have bleeding haemorrhoids, there may also be a bleeding tumour distally
The common causes of constipation?
Insufficient fluid intake is one of the main causes of chronic constipation, especially infant constipation. This is why its important to make sure children drink enough fluids especially in warm weather and climates
A low-fibre diet can contribute to the causes - fibre helps retains fluid and makes stools light and soft Some medicines, eg. painkillers such as those containing codeine (co-dydramol, co-proxamol), antidepressants, iron supplements, aluminium-containing antacids, and anticholinergics such as procyclidine (Kemadrin)
Illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Tumours and other lesions of the bowel, Kidney failure, underactive thyroid gland, may all cause or contribute to
Inadequate toilet facilities or a reluctance to obey the need to pass a stool, this is one of the main causes of constipation in infants
Immobility or an inactive lifestyle, especially in the aged
Common symptoms include:
Passing motions that are dry and hard
Having to strain to pass a motion
Fewer bowel motions than is usual for the individual
A feeling of incomplete bowel emptying Pain or discomfort when passing a motion
Being bloated combined with any of the symptoms above