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Constipation occurs when bowel movements become less frequent and stools become difficult to pass. It happens most often due to changes in diet or routine, or due to inadequate intake of fiber. You should call your doctor if you have severe pain, blood in your stools, or constipation that lasts longer than three weeks.

People of all ages can have an occasional constipation. There are also certain people and situations that are more likely to lead to becoming more consistently constipated


  • You have fewer than three bowel movements a week.
  • Your stools are dry, hard and/or lumpy.
  • Your stools are difficult or painful to pass.
  • You have a stomach ache or cramps.
  • You feel bloated and nauseous.
  • You feel that you haven’t completely emptied your bowels after a movement.


  • Eating foods low in fiber.
  • Not drinking enough water (dehydration).
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Changes in your regular routine, such as traveling or eating or going to bed at different times.
  • Eating large amounts of milk or cheese.
  • Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement.

Medical and health conditions that can cause constipation include:

Endocrine conditions, like underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), diabetes, uremia and hypercalcemia.

Colorectal cancer

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Diverticular disease

Outlet dysfunction constipation: (A defect in the coordination of pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support the organs within the pelvis and lower abdomen. They are needed to help release stool).

Neurologic disorders including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.

Lazy bowel syndrome: The colon contracts poorly and retains stool.

Intestinal obstruction

Structural defects in the digestive tract (like fistula, colonic artesian, volvulus, intussusception, imperforate anus or malrotation).

Multiple organ diseases, such as amyloidosel, lupus and scleroderma.

Symptoms in the short-term, but people should use them with care and only when necessary.


The following can help you avoid developing chronic constipation.

  • Include plenty of high-fiber foods in your diet, including beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals and bran.
  • Eat fewer foods with low amounts of fiber such as processed foods, and dairy and meat products.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Stay as active as possible and try to get regular exercise.
  • Try to manage stress.
  • Don’t ignore the urge to pass stool.
  • Try to create a regular schedule for bowel movements, especially after a meal.
  • Make sure children who begin to eat solid foods get plenty of fiber in their diets.

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