What Are the Causes of Constipation?


Quick Answer

Poor bowel habits, diet, laxatives, hormonal disorders and colon disease can cause constipation, explains MedicineNet. Central nervous system disorders, pelvic floor dysfunction and medications are additional causes. Slow passage of digesting food through the colon can lead to constipation.

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What Are the Causes of Constipation?
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Full Answer

Suppressing the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to the loss of the urge to defecate and can cause constipation, according to MedicineNet. A low-fiber diet can lead to constipation because fiber maintains a soft and bulky stool. Stimulant laxatives used to treat constipation can make the condition worse because they damage the colon. Doctors recommend using these medications as a last resort when non-stimulant laxatives fail.

Hypothyroidism and low parathyroid hormone can cause constipation as can hormonal changes that women experience during their menstrual cycle and pregnancy, explains MedicineNet. Certain diseases can affect the muscle and nerve function of the colon and cause constipation. These include diabetes, scleroderma, intestinal pseudo-obstruction, Hirschsprung’s disease and Chagas disease. Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries are a group of central nervous disorders that can cause constipation.

Medications that cause constipation include narcotic pain drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, iron supplements, calcium channel blockers and aluminum-containing antacids, lists MedicineNet. Increased fiber intake can treat constipation caused by medications, and in some cases substitution of the medication may be necessary.

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