Constipation is an irregular condition where the bowel movements are reduced than normal. In most episodes, the bowel movements can be accompanied by straining. Generally, constipation is having less than 3 bowel movements in a week.
If an individual is constipated, the bowel movements are hard, dry and difficult to pass out. There might also be passage of small stools in small pieces at a time. The condition is usually caused by the slow movement of food through the colon or can occur if the colon absorbs too much water from the digested food as it forms waste products.
Constipation is a common digestive issue that typically affects young children and the elderly but can occur at any age group.
What are the accompanying symptoms?
Constipation might be accompanied by other symptoms that vary on the underlying cause. The symptoms generally involve the GI tract but other body systems might be affected as well.
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Changes in the bowel habits
- Abdominal swelling or distention
- Sensation of having a full bowel
- Fecal incontinence
- Flatulence or gas
- Rectal pain or burning sensation
- Seepage of small amounts of liquid stool without having a full bowel movement
- Nausea and vomiting
- Straining during bowel movement
What are the causes of constipation?
Generally, the colon absorbs excess water from food during digestion. Once the food moves in a slow manner, the colon absorbs too much water which results to dry, hard stool and constipation.
Among young children, constipation often occurs due to unwillingness to use the bathroom or postponing a bowel movement if the urge is felt. Other conditions that can disrupt digestion and lead to constipation include dehydration, inflammation and malignancy.