Constipation refers to the condition of decreased bowel movements. Severe constipation occurs when the bowel movements occur fewer than three times per week. With constipation stools are generally hard, dry and small in size. Difficulty in elimination of stools is yet another characteristic feature of this disorder. People suffering from this bowel irregularity face intense straining and bloating.
Constipation is not a disease as such. It is rather a symptom that is experienced by most people in some stage of their lives. The fact is that it is the most common of all gastrointestinal complaints. Pregnant women are more prone to be affected by this disorder.
Constipation occurs when the colon fails to absorb enough water from the food. It can happen as a result of slow and sluggish movement of the bowel muscles. Decreased movement of the muscles makes the passage of stool through the colon extremely slow. Due to this process, stools become dry and are hard to be eliminated from the body.
Common causes of constipation include lack of fiber in the diet, decreased physical movements, dehydration, colon and rectal disorders, intestinal dysfunction etc. Constipation can also be the after effect of certain medications. Antidepressants, iron supplements, diuretics, anticonvulsants, blood pressure medications are some of them. Changes in lifestyle, long travel, irritable bowel syndrome etc also lead to constipation.
Studies indicate that increased intake of fluids such as juice and water are likely to provide some relief from constipation. Liquids helping making the bowel movements softer and thereby make sit easier for the stools to pass out. However, it should be kept in mind that liquids that contain caffeine, like coffee and cola drinks will only help in worsening the situation by causing dehydration.
People who frequently ignore the urge to have a bowel movement are actually paving way for abdominal irregularities including constipation. Whatever be your reason, making a purposeful delay in emptying your bowels will gradually result in diminished sensation of bowel movement and will ultimately result in constipation.