What causes constipation? Two main causes of constipation are lack of fluid in intestines and weak energy flow make it difficult to move the bowels.
Leading fast-paced life, unmanaged stress, frequent travel, eating rough or processed foods, dehydration, low fiber diet, repeatedly ignoring the urge to go, not drinking enough water, lack of exercise, exposing to dry cold weather, multitasking, and eating on the run can significant affect digestive health and normal bowel movement.
Causes of constipation:
- Low water intake or dehydration: Dehydration dries out the mucous membranes of the body and the colon. Then the body reabsorb the water from the stool. Remember, stools are predominantly made of water, when removed they become dry and hard to pass out.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Our body relies on exercise for the mucus production, which lubricate feces movement. Additionally, it maintains metabolic rate that maintain feces transit time.
- Controlling the urge: controlling bowel movements on a regular basis may stop feeling the desire to move the bowels and could lead to constipation.
- Refined food or low fiber diet: food low in fiber due to refining process makes the feces difficult to move in the intestine causing constipation.
- Overuse of laxatives: may be habit forming and make the constipation more severe.
- Changes in life or routine such as older age (due to a slower rate of metabolism and digestion), dry climate, cold wind, and travel.
- Too much of dairy products: some people with lactose intolerance can cause either diarrhea or constipation.
- Alcohol or caffeine stimulants: induces increased urination or dryness leads to dehydration, this in turn lead to constipation.
- Accumulation of physical and mental stress: Chronic and sporadic stress and anxiety disrupt regular bowel movements and contribute to constipation.
- Worm infections can interfere with the digestive system and cause blockages, resulting in constipation.
Constipation causing health conditions
Constipation is a disorder not disease, it can be secondary to several diseases, including colonic diseases (stricture, cancer, anal fissure, proctitis), metabolic and endocrine disturbances (hypercalcemia, hypothyroidism, and diabetes mellitus), and neurologic disorders (Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord lesions) or pharmacologic (anti-depressive).
- Intestinal problems like irritable bowel and colon linked with constipation.
- Hormonal conditions: Hormones help balance fluids in your body. Conditions that disturb this balance are diabetes, hyperparathyroidism, pregnancy, or hypothyroidism can lead to constipation.
- Intrinsic bowel disease: Mechanical obstruction: Neoplasm, inflammation, volvulus, infection, incarceration, intussusception, ischemia; Collagen vascular disease: Scleroderma, amyloidosis; Anorectal disease: Anal stenosis, fissure, inflammation.
- Neurologic disorders: Cerebral conditions: Parkinson’s disease, stroke, tumor; Spinal conditions: Cauda equine tumor, meningeal, spinal cord injury, tabes dorsalis, multiple sclerosis, paraplegia; Peripheral conditions: Chagas’ disease, Hirschsprung’s disease, surgical disruption of nervi erigentes, Senna toxicity, Von Recklinghausen’s disease, autonomic plexus neuropathy, multiple endocrine neoplasia ii-b, hypoganglionosis.
- Muscular problems: Difficulty with the muscles (such as pelvic muscles) involved in elimination. Inability to relax the pelvic muscles (anismus), do not relax & contract correctly (dyssynergia), and weakened pelvic muscles.
- Endocrine disorders: Hypothyroidism, hypopituitarism, diabetes mellitus, pheochromocytoma.
- Metabolic disorders: Dehydration, uremia, hypercalcemia, porphyria, pregnancy, hypokalemia.
- Surgery: The gynecological surgery, particularly hysterectomy, has been associated with constipation.
Constipation causing medications
Pharmacologic agents: Certain drugs or medication can cause constipation. They are:
- Antidepressants: Amoxapine, bupropion, clomipramine, fluoxetine, maprotiline, mirtazepine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine.
- Tranquilizers: Alprazolam, clozapine, olanzapine, risperidone.
- Neurological drugs: Bromocriptine, felbamate, pergolide, valproic acid.
- Narcotics: Burtorphanol, codeine, fentanyl, morphine.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories: Diclofenac, indomethacin, nabumetone, naproxen, salicylates, sulindac.
- Muscle relaxants and other analgesics: Baclofen, carisoprodol, tizanidine, tramadol.
- Calcium channel blockers: Nifedipine, verapamil.
- Antiarrhythmic drugs: Amiodarone, flecainide, mexiletine, propafenone.
- Lipid-lowering agents: Cholestyramine, colestipol, lovastatin, provachol.
- Anti-hypertensive: Diuretics, acebutolol, clonidine, guanfacine.
- Antiplatelet: Anagrelide.
- Hematological/oncological drugs: Iron therapy, carboplatin, erythropoetin, filgrastim, vinblastine.
- Gastrointestinal drugs: Aluminum- and calcium-containing antacids, mesalamine, pancreatin, octreotide.
- Heavy metal intoxication: Arsenic, lead, mercury, phosphorus.
- Miscellaneous agents: Barium sulphate, thalidomide, alendronate, interferon alfa-2b, leuprolide, levofloxacin, ondansetron, pamidronate.
Even though constipation is a simple discomfort, if left untreated it may lead to a major problem. There is immediate need to look into this health discomfort, seriously.