Certain underlying diseases, as well as one’s lifestyle, are the primary causes of constipation. Therefore, before opting for any treatment, one needs to understand the root cause by visiting a physician.
Causes of constipation
Excessive absorption of water by the colon is one of the primary causes of constipation. Poor or slow contraction of the colonic muscles may be the trigger for slow stool movements of and greater water loss. Here are some other factors that may lead to this problem:
- Insufficient fiber in the diet
People who have a fiber-rich diet consisting of fruits, whole grains as well as vegetables in sufficient quantities are less prone to constipation. Fiber ensures that the patient has regular bowel movements. Thus, one can prevent constipation by making modifications to their diet. It is advisable to avoid food with low fiber content like eggs, meat, and cheese.
- Lack of physical activity
When people are inactive for long periods, which occurs in the case of old people, there is a possibility of constipation. When people are bed-ridden for a prolonged period such as for weeks or months after hospitalization, there is an increased risk of constipation. Usually, seniors live a sedentary life without much physical activity. Therefore, they are at a higher risk of constipation as compared to younger, and more active people.
Constipation is a common side effect of taking some medications. These include narcotics like codeine, hydromorphone or oxycodone for pain relief. Amitriptyline, an antidepressant can also be responsible for constipation. Constipation can also occur due to anticonvulsant medications like phenytoin or carbamazepine, taken in the form of an iron supplement. Calcium channel blockers like diltiazem or nifedipine can trigger constipation. Certain antacids like Amphojel or Basaljel which contain aluminum could be responsible for constipation. Diuretics like chlorothiazide could also trigger constipation. In rare cases, some of these medications may cause severe constipation.
- Dairy products
Dairy products including milk can sometimes lead to constipation.
Every individual’s metabolic process slows down with age. It is a regular issue with activity in the lower intestine. The digestive tract muscles do not work as efficiently as they should, creating a possibility of constipation.
- Outstation trips
While we are traveling, our regular lifestyle and routine changes. Most of the times, people don’t eat their meals on time, and their sleep cycle also changes. Thus, this may result in the need to visit the toilet at odd hours.
- Excessive use of laxatives
To force the movement of bowels at least once a day, you might self medicate with laxatives. When you use laxatives to assist in your bowel movement, you interfere with the body’s regular digestive action, and this will result in a dependence on laxatives. The dosage of laxatives will keep increasing progressively, and when you miss your dose, you are likely to suffer from constipation.
- Delaying the urge for going to the loo
Sometimes, you might suppress your body’s urge to pass bowel movements either by ignoring it or by trying to delay it as much as possible. When you meddle with your body’s digestive routine, chances are that you will become a victim of constipation. The stool gradually assumes a drier texture, resulting in difficulty while trying to pass stools.
- Low intake of water
If you are already suffering from constipation, increasing the amount of water you drink might not be of any use. However, if you drink an adequate amount of water every day, the risk of constipation is reduced. The problem worsens because of the consumption of sodas or caffeine-containing drinks as this leads to dehydration. Alcohol consumption may also trigger constipation, and anyone who suffers from constipation or is prone to it should avoid drinking.
- Rectal or colon issues
Obstruction due to tumors may cause constipation. Other reasons for constipation are diverticulosis, scar tissue, or colorectal stricture, which is a condition where the colon or rectum becomes abnormally narrow. Hirschsprung disease, a congenital defect, leads to the absence of some nerve cells of the large intestine. This condition can also lead to constipation.
- The occurrence of some diseases
If you have an underlying disease or illness, you may face the problem of constipation. Some of these are neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease or spinal cord injuries as well as pseudo-obstruction of the intestine due to chronic idiopathy. Disorders of the endocrine, as well as the metabolic system like diabetes, uremia, poor control of glycemic levels, hypercalcemia or hypothyroidism, are responsible for diabetes. Diseases like lupus, amyloidosis as well as scleroderma affect multiple tissues and organs, leading to constipation. Cancer is one of the causes of constipation. The strong medications and heavy doses of chemotherapy have an adverse effect on the digestive system which results in constipation.