It’s probably one of the most unpleasant physical experiences there is: that feeling when you have to go, but just can’t. No matter how much your belly tosses and turns, your bowels just refuse to pass stool and you’re stuck feeling sick, in pain, and wondering when the agony will be over The big questions is, "Why does constipation happen?” There are several different factors that can contribute to constipation, and we’ll explore them in depth right here and now.
The main reason constipation happens is because the colon has absorbed too much water from the food that is passing through, leaving it dry and hard. The slower a person’s digestion, the more time the colon has to pull water from the food that is being digested, and the harder and drier it becomes the more difficult it will be for it to pass.
A slow digestive system is, therefore, one of the primary causes of constipation, but it’s worth exploring what leads to having a slow digestive system, and what other factors besides a slow digestive system cause constipation. Let’s take a look.
Constipation can be caused by a variety of different things. After all, there are various factors that affect our digestive health every day! Here are just a few of those:
Lack Of Fiber In Diet
Fiber is known to promote digestive health and keep bowel movements regular. Foods rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Foods low in fiber include high-fat foods, such as cheese, meat, and eggs. But consult with your doctor before taking fiber, or choosing the kind of fiber that’s right for you (i.e. soluble versus insoluble fiber); while fiber helps in many cases of constipation, it may worsen symptoms in some.
Few things slow a person’s digestion quite like being physically inactive. Sadly, this often occurs in people who are older or bed-bound.
Several kinds of medications are known to cause constipation as a side effect. These include opioid pain medications such as codeine (Tylenol), oxycodone (Percocet), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid), as well as some antidepressants, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blocking drugs, aluminum-containing antiacids like Amphojel and Basaljel, and some diuretics.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Frequent constipation is a symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a common intestinal disorder that causes pain in the belly, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Although drinking a lot of water won’t help constipation that is already present, staying hydrated on a day-to-day basis reduces the risk of constipation.
Other Causes Of Constipation
Aside from these, some other causes of constipation include aging, pregnancy, changes in routine, overuse of laxatives, not going to the bathroom when needed or “holding it,” milk and other dairy products, problems with the colon or rectum (such as a tumor), and certain diseases and conditions
If you are experiencing frequent symptoms of constipation, it may be time to see a specialist about that. Chronic constipation may also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition that requires medical attention. Our colorectal specialists have plenty of experience treating patients who suffer from constipation. To book an appointment with one of our colorectal specialists, contact us today!