Gastroenterology

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Remedies for Constipation and Common Causes

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Constipation remedies, treatments, and causes

By Katherine Solem

Constipation is caused by your body having trouble moving your stool through your digestive tract. Many remedies for constipation exist including minor diet and lifestyle changes such as increasing your fiber intake or exercising more. Read more about the remedies for constipation and how to prevent it in the first place.

Causes of Constipation

Constipation is caused predominantly due to waste moving through the digestive tract too slowly. One of the main jobs of the large intestine (colon) is to re-absorb water from the stool. When stool moves too slowly through the colon, lots of water is re-absorbed, making your stool hard and more difficult to pass. A variety of things can cause this slowing of your bowel movement.

  • Dehydration
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  • Insufficient fiber in your diet
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  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): This disorder impacts your lower intestinal tract and often involves abdominal pain as well as constipation. This can be made worse by daily stress.
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  • Lack of physical activity
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  • Hormonal disturbances
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  • Loss of body salts: This can be caused by vomiting or diarrhea.
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  • Spinal injury: This can injure specific nerves that control the intestine. This lack of nerve communication can cause the muscles needed to move your stool to not function properly. This causes the slowdown that leads to your waste hardening and consequently constipation.
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  • Certain medications: Some medications have the side effect of causing constipation. These can include diuretics, Parkinson’s disease medication, high blood pressure medication and antidepressants.
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Symptoms of Constipation

  • Less than three stools a week: Not having a bowel movement daily does not necessarily mean you have constipation. But if you have a bowel movement less than three times a week, you may be suffering from constipation.
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  • Hard stools
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  • Straining bowel movements: If it is excessively difficult to have a bowel movement, this can be a symptom of constipation.
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Risk Factors for Constipation

  • Older adult: Constipation is more common in adults 65 and older due to a variety of factors including inactivity, poor diet, depression, certain medications and neuromuscular disorders.
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  • Sedentary: Because decreased movement can cause constipation, a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of constipation.
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  • Low fiber diet
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  • Inadequate fluid intake
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  • Chemotherapy
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