2016-06-16 16:59:40 UTC

Constipation 102: Causes

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In most cases, constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Below is a list of some of the most common causes of constipation:


Poor Diet


  • Not eating enough veggies, fruits and whole grains can make the stools hard and difficult to pass. 
  • Changes in your diet, like when you travel, along with inactivity can also lead to constipation.




  • Many medications can cause constipation. 
  • Let your doctor know all of the medications you are on, or let your doctor know if you have had constipation in the past before starting a new medication. 
  • Some examples of medicine that can cause constipation are:
    • Pain medications (mainly narcotics).
    • Some antacids.
    • Antispasmodic drugs, which suppress muscle spasms.
    • Antidepressant drugs.
    • Tranquilizers.
    • Iron supplements.
    • Anticonvulsants, for epilepsy.
    • Anti–Parkinson’s disease drugs.
    • Calcium channel blockers, for high blood pressure and heart conditions.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


  • Also known as IBS with constipation or IBS-C, this condition is one of the most common causes of constipation in the U.S. 
  • IBS-C is associated with more belly pain than some other causes of constipation.
  • Visit www.gastro.org/patient-care for more information on IBS-C.


Poor Bowel Habits


  • You can start a cycle of constipation by not going when you have the urge to move your bowels (like when you are too busy or don’t want to use a public toilet). 
  • After a while, you may stop feeling the need to go at all. This leads to constipation.


Pelvic Floor Dysfunction


  • When the muscles in the pelvic floor don’t relax as they should to allow easy passage of stool, it causes constipation and the feeling like you have to go, but nothing comes out. 
  • This is treated by biofeedback and retraining of these muscles through pelvic floor physical therapy.


© AGA, September 2017


©AGA, July 2016

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