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10 Common Causes of Constipation

Updated on November 18, 2015

What is constipation?

By definition constipation is the condition of finding it quite difficult to get rid of solid waste out of your body. You are said to be constipated when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent for you.

Although constipation is a very common thing, not too many people feel comfortable talking about it. According to studies, about 2 percent of Americans suffer from constipation. Millions of people all over the world suffer from constipation on a daily basis. Studies have shown that the majority of constipation sufferers are women and the elderly.

Although constipation is not all the time a grave problem, it can be quite a painful and frustrating experience for anyone who suffers from it.

Signs of constipation

Before we move into the causes of constipation, let us take a brief look at the signs of constipation. In the medical world, you are said to be constipated if you are experiencing at least two or more of the following issues continuously for at least 12 weeks:

  • A drastic reduction in the number of times you have bowel movements. According to health experts, not being able to have bowel movements every day is not a sign of constipation. But what is a sign of constipation is when you have bowel movements two or fewer times every week.
  • When you strain in order to have a bowel movement then you are likely suffering from constipation. Here, it doesn’t mean that you have constipation the moment you find yourself straining in order to relief yourself. According to the experts, if this is quite frequent (more than 25% of the time), then you are likely dealing with constipation.
  • Frequently having hard stools. The experts say that if you have hard stools more than 25% of the time when you attend to nature’s call, then you are likely constipated.
  • If after attending to nature’s call, you frequently feel that not everything was evacuated, then you just might be suffering from constipation.

If you are experiencing these issues above continuously for about 12 weeks or more, then you are likely suffering from constipation.

NOTE: Many people think that when one does not have bowel movements every day, then the person is suffering from constipation. The experts say that this is not the case simply because we are all made differently. Somebody can have bowel movements three or more times every single day, whereas another person will go only once every two or three days. We all differ from one another.

So how do I know that I am constipated?

You know you are constipated based on the signs above and if you are having bowel movements less than you normally do.

Major causes of constipation

Let us now turn our attention to the causes of constipation. Like I said above, there are numerous things that can lead to a person suffering from constipation. Below are the most common causes of constipation in the average person:

  • Insufficient liquid intake – insufficient water or liquid intake is one of the most common causes of constipation. This is so obvious. The less water that you take, the greater your risks are of suffering from constipation. It is for this reason doctors always advise patients suffering from constipation to drink more water. Sufficient water intake will soften one’s stool and play an important role in making bowel movements more frequent and less strenuous. People who do not take in sufficient water tend to suffer more from infrequent and strenuous bowel movements than those who drink sufficient water on a daily basis. Water is needed by the body to keep your stools soft so that they can easily get out of your body.
  • A change in your normal diet or eating habit – constipation can also be caused when you switch from your normal and regular diet to a totally new one. This is even more common when the new diet that you switch to is mainly made up of solid and dry foods.
  • A change in your normal routine – a change or disruption of your normal routine or activities can also lead to constipation. For example if you suddenly find yourself doing a lot of traveling, then that can greatly increase your chances of suffering from constipation. Traveling is very synonymous with constipation. This is the reason why we tend to experience constipation when we do some traveling or some other activity that interferes with our regular routine.
  • Consuming diets that are rich in dairy products – dairy products are things that you’d want to stay away from or eat in moderation if you want to avoid suffering from constipation. According to the experts, the reason dairy products such as milk and cheese cause constipation is simply because they slow down digestion. Therefore the more of these products that you consume, the higher your risks are of suffering from constipation. Cut down on the amount of dairy products that you eat and save yourself from suffering from constipation.
  • Depression can also cause constipation – believe it or not, but depression can easily make you suffer from constipation. Why does depression cause constipation? According to health experts, the answer is simple. Depression as we all know affects our health in a very negative way. It also affects how the body works. When one is depressed, his or her immune system becomes weak and the process of digestion is also negatively affected. Basically, depression slows down digestion and leads to constipation.
  • Stress can also get you constipated – stress is another thing that can make a person to suffer from constipation. Stress causes constipation in the same way that depression does. Just like depression, stress also weakens the body’s immune system and slows down digestion. This can easily lead to constipation. This is the reason why doctors say constipation is one of the symptoms of stress.
  • Certain medications are also known to cause depression – over the years doctors have found out that certain medications have constipation being their side effect. Basically when you take these medications, you increase your chances of suffering from constipation. Some of these medications that cause constipation include the following: common pain killers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antacids, etc. Blood pressure and allergy medications are also known causes of constipation. For example, the drug diuretic which is used in the treatment of high blood pressure is one of the most common medications that have one of their side effects being constipation. Diuretics reduce the amount of water in a patient and contribute towards constipation by making stools harder and more difficult to get rid of.
  • Pregnancy causes constipation to most women – one of the most common issues that most women have to deal with when they are pregnant is constipation. A lot of women say that constipation was one of the things they frequently suffered from during pregnancy.
  • Lack of physical activity contributes towards constipation – another very common cause of constipation is as a result of inadequate physical activity or exercise. When you constantly avoid engaging in physical activity or exercise, then you increase your chances of suffering from constipation. This is the reason people who are very immobile tend to suffer quite a lot from constipation. When such people visit their doctors and complain of constipation, the doctors normally tell them to engage in a reasonable amount of exercise on a daily basis. Exercise keeps the body healthy and makes it function very well. And when you are healthy and your body is functioning very well, constipation is not something that you are likely going to experience.
  • Low amounts of fiber in your diets also cause constipation – we all know how important fiber is for the body. Fiber is very important in the digestion process as it helps the digestive system to digest food properly. When you constantly eat very low fiber diets, then you make yourself prone to suffering from constipation simply because the body is going to struggle with the digestion of food.


Here we are with the 10 very common causes of constipation. Readers should know that these are not the only things that can lead to constipation. We have several other causes of constipation such as the following: eating disorders, too much use of laxatives, constantly deliberately resisting the urge to have bowel movements, hypothyroidism, colon cancer, etc. All these things can contribute towards giving you constipation. It's worth noting that you don't have constipation if you are unable to have bowel movements every day.

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© 2014 myvenn


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Great topic and well covered. I am sure many people are not aware of what causes constipation. It seems that diet and exercise make a big difference.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      very good, informative read on constipation myvenn. Many people are not aware that's it's not difficult to get constipated. A consistent eating habits filled with fiber will keep everything moving briskly. Thumbs up on your hub.