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What is Constipation?

Constipation is passage of small amounts of hard, dry bowel movements, usually fewer than three times a week. People who are constipated may have difficult and painful bowel movements.

Constipation causes large, hard stools to become lodged in the rectum. Watery stool can then leak out around the hardened stool. Constipation also causes the muscles of the rectum to stretch, which weakens the muscles so they can't hold stool in the rectum long enough for a person to reach a bathroom

Constipation is not a disease. It is a symptom. Constipation is usually caused by a disturbance of how the intestines works.

Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the United States. Constipation affects almost everyone at one time or another. It causes about 2 million annual visits to the doctor.

What causes Constipation?

The hard and dry stools of constipation occur when the intestines absorbs too much water. (Waste moves through the intestines and the intestines absorb water as the waste moves through it). This happens because the intestines's muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move through the intestines too slowly.

Some of the causes of constipation are:

In most cases, constipation is temporary and not serious.

Who gets Constipated?

According to the 1991 National Health Interview Survey, about 4 1/2 million people in the United States say they are constipated most or all of the time. Pregnant women also complain of constipation. Constipation is most common following childbirth or surgery.

Diseases that cause Constipation

Some of the most common diseases that cause constipation are: Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, Stroke, Spinal cord injuries, Diabetes, Underactive or overactive thyroid gland, Uremia, Amyloidosis, Lupus, Scleroderma.

How is Constipation Diagnosed?

Most people with constipation do not need extensive testing and can be treated with changes in diet and exercise.

Can constipation be prevented?

Maybe. To decrease your chances of developing constipation, do the following:

  1. Eat a well-balanced, high-fiber diet that includes beans, bran, whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
  2. Drink plenty of liquids.
  3. Exercise regularly.

Complications of Constipation

One of the most common complications of constipation is fecal incontinence.

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