Constipation can cause a swollen abdomen or abdominal pain, as well as vomiting, according to WebMD. When bowel movements are infrequent and there is difficulty in passing stool, this is constipation. While the number of bowel movements per day or week varies from person-to-person, when there is no bowel movement for more than three days, constipation is indicated.
Any constipation that lasts longer than two weeks should be assessed by a doctor, recommends WebMD. Constipation can be caused by a myriad of factors such as insufficient fluid intake, lack of fiber in the diet, inadequate exercise, stress or holding a bowel movement. Other causes of constipation include eating large amounts of dairy products, overuse of laxatives, hypothyroidism and pregnancy. In rare cases, colon cancer can cause constipation.
While most people do not require testing to diagnose constipation, in some cases, constipation indicates a more serious problem, notes WebMD. A doctor may use blood tests, barium studies or a colonoscopy to determine the cause of constipation when a more serious reason is suspected. Constipation can be overcome in most cases by drinking two to four extra glasses of water daily, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and adding prunes or bran cereals to the diet.