Constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools, and having lumpy or hard stools. It is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Constipation may also cause excessive straining to have a bowel movement, and feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements. Treatment for constipation depends in part on the underlying cause. However, in some cases, a cause is never found.

Causes of Constipation

Constipation most commonly occurs when waste or stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract or cannot be eliminated effectively from the rectum, which may cause the stool to become hard and dry. Chronic constipation has many possible causes, such as blockages in the colon or rectum, problems with the nerves around the colon and rectum, difficulty with the muscles involved in elimination, conditions that affect hormones in the body and medication side effects.

Risk Factors of Constipation

Risk factors for chronic constipation include:

  • Older adult
  • Dehydration
  • Low fiber diet
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Taking certain medications, including sedatives, narcotics, some antidepressants or medications to lower blood pressure
  • Having a mental health condition such as depression or an eating disorder

How to Prevent Constipation

  • Include plenty of high-fiber foods in your diet, including beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals and bran.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Stay as active as possible. Try to get regular exercise.
  • Try to create a regular schedule for bowel movements, especially after a meal or early in the morning.

If you have concerns about constipation, request an appointment at San Bernardino Gastroenterology Associates.